If You’re Only Using SMART Goals, Stop. There’s Another Option

Carly Mae
Carly Mae
Jul 14, 2018 · 5 min read

We’ve all heard about SMART goals. You know, that system of goal-setting that has swept the nation. The kind of goal-setting that is suppose to help you actually achieve your goals.

S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Achievable
R: Realistic
T: Time-Bound

“It is generally accepted that the SMART acronym was first written down in November 1981 in Spokane, Washington” (Haughey, 2014). Originally George T. Doran was the individual that coined this magical goal-setting regimen.

I have to give it credit.

It serves a purpose.

But I call bullshit.

It is a great way to set goals but it is not the ONLY way to set goals.

As a college success advisor, there are times this kind of goal setting just does not work. And it all depends on the person. SMART goals are an absolutely awesome go-to for goal setting, but just like you might not fit into specific molds, SMART goals just might not be for you. They were designed to be a catch-all, putting people into boxes.

I’m here to tell you there is another way to set goals. I’m here to let you know that you don’t have to be put into a box! Because the reality is that not everything is strategic, time-bound, or realistic. Life is not always that perfect. And your goals probably aren’t either.

If you are set on isolating your thinking into this linear format for you life, you’re limiting yourself. You are limiting your thought to only your left-brain! And that’s just dumb. (I write about left-brain, right-brain productivity further in another post titled How I Turned Chaos Into Creative Consistency.)

There’s another way of goal setting, and they’re called DUMB goals. Yes, you heard me right. They are legit called DUMB goals.

D: Dream-Driven or Destiny-Driven — Thinking about your dreams beyond your normal scope of reality. The big, magical things! Your life’s work!
U: Uplifting — You are so thrilled about what is ahead you want to do it now! It’s connected to the dream!
M: Method-Friendly — You can maneuver the goal easily, and you’re able to identify habits around the goal that make it possible!
B: Behavior-Driven — You tie in your goals with your behaviors to solidify it as a part of your life. Treating it like a habit will eventually make it one!

The amazing and inspirational Brendon Burchard created this outline in one of the videos on his YouTube channel (Watch the full video here). Brendon is a well-known inspirational coach and motivational speaker. He talks a lot about success, where you’re at, and he assist you in finding real and practical ways to get where you really want to be. He gives you the reins to take control in a way that is most applicable to you.

In my opinion, he is the king of personalized coaching but he does it in such a way that it’s applicable on a wide scale to literally everyone. He asks you to examine your own personal experiences in moving forward towards your goals, enabling you to be irrevocably connected with your own personal journey.

And he’s exceptionally energetic.

He talks about the passion that should go into creating your goals. Your goals should excite you, make you want to get out of bed in the morning.

At it’s core, DUMB goals are the kind of goals that make big things happen. These are the kinds of goals that take the impossible and make it a reality. In the midst of our compartmentalizing, clarifying, and labeling literally everything we are losing the passion that should come with setting our biggest life goals.

We are losing the beauty in creating goals that are dream-driven, that might seem wildly unrealistic but are things we are genuinely excited about!

We’ve stripped away our excitement, our passion, and we’ve traded it in for measurable futures. I don’t know about you, but that just sounds completely dreadful.

Set the goals that fire you up. Set the goals for your future that ignite your passion. Do what makes you happy. Because in the end that’s all that truly matters.

I promise you will not look back on your life and say, “Man, I’m so glad I set measurable and time-bound goals for myself.”


You will say, “I’m so glad I went out of my comfort zone and achieved the things of my dreams.”

I’ll give you an example of my own personal DUMB goal. Call me biased but I think it’s pretty cool.

I want to write a story or a novel in at least every single genre of writing.

Crazy, right?

Yeah, crazy awesome!

The goal of this post was not to slam SMART goals, it’s more to show you that you are limiting yourself, your capability, your soul, and your passions if you think that this is the only way you will ever achieve anything.

The greatest feelings of accomplishment come from intrinsic motivation. And at the end of the day if you are not personally satisfied in your choices they are exactly that — choices. And their yours.

Own them.

Personalize them.

Instead of thinking SMARTer, maybe start thinking a little DUMBer.


Haughey, D. (2014, December 13). A Brief History of SMART Goals. Retrieved from https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/brief-history-of-smart-goals.php

Carly Mae

Written by

Carly Mae

A conversationalist on Creativity, Education, Self-Care, Life Lessons, and Writing. "No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise."

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