SMART Goals - Not So Smart?
Wait Vari, isn't this the generally accepted, used and praised framework for goal setting?
Yes, it is. But aren't we in a phase of life and empowerment where we question what we used to just accept, reflect on what's really right for us, and try to create a new bolder brighter world?
As someone who spent a decade in leadership in the Events Industry across 3 countries, I have seen people going back to this framework over and over again, and have seen 2 main problems with the model.
If you're new here - Hello! 👋 I'm Vari - Scottish Kiwi Hufflepuff and ICF Certified Life Coach - living in Melbourne. I'm here to help women take brave action with confidence and heart in their career or business, and to help break down the systemic engrained outdated world of work which is so biased against women.
So let's break it down - the problems I see, the impact these have, a newer way of thinking, and stay tuned on here and the podcast for my own goal setting and goal getting model.
What's The Problem?
For me it's all in the 'A' and the 'R' the achievable and the realistic.
Both apply to the corporate world, and to starting out as a business owner - but in different ways.
In the corporate world, we would set goals alongside our line manager, and in the context of the overall team and or business's goals.
But are we always aligned with these? Do they reflect our own purpose, work and potential?
In my own experience (10 years of leadership in 9 roles across 3 countries) the smart goal setting process was very much limited by my line manager's opinion of what as 'achievable' for me.
And I know from the stories of the women I now Coach, that they also feel limited and cornered into goals which reflect more of their manager's opinion of them, and not their own wishes or real potential.
We know that women's work is undervalued - because of discrimination for what is seen as 'female work' and the lack of female mentors and role models (WGEA, 2021).
We also know that women - due to the patriarchal nature of the corporate world - struggle with confidence, to speak up, and to have their worth recognised.
The impact? Women setting goals restricted by the overall situation for women in the workplace, by their (likely male) line manager's opinion, in a way that limits what is seen as 'achievable' and 'realistic' for them.
And then in the small business world, we know that women as they start and start to grow businesses constantly experience cycles of self doubt, a rollercoaster of confidence levels, and trying to balance the additional personal and family responsibilities placed on their gender, and a world ready to criticise them, question their stories and their skills.
This CEO Magazine article has some fascinating insights into this globally, and post pandemic.
And so we - I have personal experience and see this with clients - aim low, start slowly, set goals which don't truly expand and challenge us, and often have aims set limited by everything above.
We pull back from taking big bold action, because the world tells us we are aiming too high, our goals are unrealistic and unlikely to happen.
So here's the main point which really made me move away from 'smart' goals and towards a better model, especially for women.
For a goal to be seen as 'realistic' we have to be able to see it as a real reality.
Something which we know is entirely possible because we have seen it happen for others.
And others like us.
But this is not the case for women.
As mentioned above, the lack of female mentors, role models, and women in senior positions in corporate and their own successful businesses (WGEA data here).
This is what we really need to change.
And until then we need to encourage and support women as they aim to break records, smash barriers, break through ceilings, set a new example to the next generation of women that anything is achievable for us.
Because we are not the problem. The system is. The gender discrimination is. The pay gap is.
What's The Alternative?
I actually think there are lots of alternatives here. No one thing will work for everyone, and I love that people develop their own methods, ideas and goal setting plans.
As long as we recognise the overall position for women in the world of work, the barriers and discrimination faced, and are brave enough to recognise and change our own biases and those of others, we are going in the right direction.
For me - as someone who has 2 science degrees and a mind trained to look for and evaluate reliable information - I like to look for facts, and real world examples.
So as you set goals, or help the people around you to, I would ask you to think whether our ideas of what is achievable for you are factually correct, or based on biases and a lack of confidence or role models.
Can you find one woman who has achieved it? Then it's possible.
Can you find the Courage to believe you can too?
Can you find the right people to support and help you?
And finally, would you wish your daughter or granddaughter to go for the big goal?
Or get stuck in a generational cycle of women doubting their own potential?
Love, Vari 💜
PS: I'll be sharing much more content on here, and the podcast, so stay tuned for my goal getting method.