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A Closer Look at SMART & HARD Goals & Their Effectiveness

We all know how difficult it can be to organize your life; many of us have gone through the trial and errors of setting effective goals for ourselves. Thankfully, we don’t have to continue down this path of disappointment.

The S.M.A.R.T. goals process acts as a guide to creating meaningful objectives and help you better achieve them. Learn how to create S.M.A.R.T. and H.A.R.D. goals and finally accomplish what you’ve set out to do.

Established by George T. Doran as a way to form goals and increase your chances of achieving them, S.M.A.R.T. goals demonstrate that the best way to achieve results is to state clear, attainable goals which allow you to reach important milestones and metrics. This original definition ties in the following criteria:

  • Specific: Target a specific area for improvement and be as specific and detailed as possible.
  • Measurable: Develop a standard to gauge of success so you can determine if you’re meeting your goals.
  • Achievable: Honestly consider which of your goals are achievable and which aren’t—know your limits.
  • Realistic/Relevant: State what results you can realistically achieve given your available resources.
  • Time-related: Determine a time frame in which you plan to achieve your goals.

Though this has been a trusted method of goal resolution for decades, recently it has come under scrutiny as not being as effective as originally supposed. A study designed by Mark Murphy, contributor to Forbes Magazine, tracked 4,182 workers to see if S.M.A.R.T. goal setting actually helped them meet their objectives. His study found that of those surveyed, only 15% of employees agree that their goals will help them achieve anything. In light of this data, Mark Murphy redefined how we can use goals to achieve greatness.

Murphy suggests that a more powerful motivator is H.A.R.D. goals. Considered to be more ambitious than S.M.A.R.T. goals, they’re presumed to be more difficult to accomplish because they encourage risk-taking and innovative thinking. H.A.R.D. goals encourage forward thinking and adopt the following criteria:

  • Heartfelt: Motivate yourself to succeed by choosing goals that you care deeply about.
  • Animated: Visualize your future and do anything you can to make it a reality.
  • Required: Start thinking of your goals in terms of necessity—success is not optional.
  • Difficult: Aim for goals that challenge you to use all your talents.

In an intense, highly unpredictable environment, H.A.R.D. goals may indeed lead to greater goal actualization. However, goal setting reminds us that like many things in life, it’s up to each individual to determine which method is more effective.

Written by Logan Voss

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