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Should Goals be ‘Motivating’?

Posted by on March 25th, 2013 with 0 Comments

The SMART acronym can be interpreted in many different ways.
Most of the alternatives, like “S = Special”, are easy to dismiss.

But “M = Motivating” is a little more difficult to dismiss, for two reasons.

  1. It appears in the work of business icon Ken Blanchard.
    It’s hard to argue with Ken. He’s intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate. He’s a guru!
  2. Doggone it, it just feels right.
    Right? I mean who can be against the idea that goals should be motivating?
    Do you want demotivating goals?

Well, let me counter ‘Motivating’ with three arguments:

  • Measurable is a better use of ‘M’.
    I never sign up for a goal that isn’t Measurable. It’s that simple…
  • What is ‘Motivating’ anyway?
    Unfortunately, for years I have struggled to determine what is motivating for other people.  What motivates me doesn’t motivate you, and vice-versa. In fact, my negative reinforcement might be your positive reinforcement.
    I don’t know how I would try to write a goal that would motivate a large number of people.
  • Finally, my experience told me that goals didn’t need to made motivating.
    Clear goals are, by their very existence, motivating. It turns out my experience was not unusual.
    I was pleased to read about this in the research of Locke and Latham. They confirm that motivation is not a necessary component for goals.

In fact – Goals don’t have to be designed to motivate. Goals motivate by design.

The very presence of a clear goal, where one did not exist before, provides motivation.
That’s the point of a goal to begin with.

One more point – R = Relevance in the SMART acronym.
If your goal is not motivating to your audience, I would argue that it must be irrelevant to them.

Instead of worrying about a fuzzy, personal target like ‘motivation’, I would focus on making my goal relevant to people’s work and life.

That’s SMART as Hell.

SMART as Hell Exercise:

  1. Review: your current goals. 
  2. Ask: are they motivating? Why or why not?
  3. Reflect: What makes them motivating? Or how would you make them motivating for yourself or others?
  4. Debate: Which is more effective to motivation, relevance or ‘appeal’?

Share your questions, comments, and findings below…

 

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