A 2011 article in the Academy of Management Review business journal stated that stretch goals "serve as jolting events that disrupt complacency and promote new ways of thinking." They can elevate aspirations in teams, organizations and individuals, and spark energy. They encourage innovation, playfulness, experimentation or broad learning. Thus, a stretch goal can enhance creativity and innovation, and make us remarkably productive. However, it can also prove counterproductive. A stretch goal can cause panic and convince people that it is too big to achieve. It can crush morale and push people on the back foot before the task begins. So how can this challenge be addressed? According to psychologists, there is an alternate path, one that is more concrete and specific: setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T GoalsSMART is an acronym commonly attributed to Peter Drucker. It is one of the longest-lasting, popular goal-setting frameworks. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, they should be: S – Specific – The more specificity in a goal, the clearer it is. "WH" questions are a good place to start. M – Measurable – Can your goal be measured? What gets measured gets done. A – Achievable – Is the goal achievable or a pipe dream? R – Relevant – Is each task connected to the end goal you have in mind? T – Time Bound – Set a deadline for yourself to achieve the goal. Let's consider, for instance, that you want to earn more money in the next few years. For this goal, the S.M.A.R.T. technique could look like this:
- Specific: How much money do you want to earn? How many years do you want to earn it in?
- Measurable: How will you measure progress? And, if you deviate, what specific steps will you take to course correct?
- Achievable: Which steps will you follow to achieve this goal?
- Relevant: Will the steps you follow contribute to achieving your final goal of earning more money?
- Time bound: Set a deadline for yourself to complete each step.
What is Productivity?In modern mythos, productivity is believed to be "working more or sweating harder". Overtime, multi-tasking, doing more each day, being available 24/7 – these are yardsticks of productivity. Batman, the ever-present superhero cum businessman, always fighting crime and saving cats stuck on trees, is the epitome of productivity. But Batman exists in just one place – imagination. Okay, comics and movies too. But we don't live in imagination and comics. We live in the real world, where resources are limited. It sucks, but it's true. Productivity is not about spending longer hours at your desk or making bigger sacrifices. That's just being busy. According to New York Times journalist and author Charles Duhigg, productivity is "the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort…… It's about getting things done without sacrificing everything we care about along the way."
"The way we choose to see ourselves and frame daily decisions; the stories we tell ourselves and the easy goals we ignore; the creative cultures we establish as leaders: These things separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive." – Charles Duhigg