SHIFT: a new way to think about goal setting

Chances are you’ve heard of the very common goal-setting tool: SMAR(R)T.

  • Strategic
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Relevant (and/or realistic)
  • Timed

I don’t know about you, but I think setting SMART goals is unbelievably boring, uninspiring, and does not make me want to do a happy dance. I get that we need to operationalize our vision. But if that vision is what makes your heart go pitter-patter and see rainbows and glitter, SMART goals are like coloring those rainbows beige. Blek.

I’d like to invite you to think about goal setting using a SHIFT framework, in addition to a SMART framework. I like to couple both together and see what emerges, for personal, team, and organizational goals.

  • Strategic: I use a simplified definition from Michael Porter’s work at Harvard.
    • Makes you unique
    • Requires you to say, “No,” to other activities (too many strategic plans just add on new work and never remove the outdated stuff)
    • Aligns across an organization (or aligns a person’s life)
  • Helpful: The goal actually supports the vision and mission in very tangible and practical ways. And you can create the metrics to demonstrate that.
  • Intuitive: it resonates with you and others in your heart and gut, not just in your head.
  • Fun: you’re going to want to celebrate doing the work. It adds to your happiness and feelings of success.
  • Timed: you have deadlines and timed benchmarks for the work.

Next time you set goals (maybe as you’re setting next year’s goals or creating New Year’s resolutions), try crafting goals by both listing out the SMART and SHIFT elements side-by-side. See what you notice about the differences and what each category reveals about the goal.

Here’s a pro tip: if you can’t complete each section in a way that aligns with the others, you don’t have a complete goal or your vision needs tweaked.

Now go get your SHIFT on!