SMART Goals: An IDIOT’s guide to keeping SMART goals simple

Written by on August 27, 2019

It’s better to be an idiot with a great, simple plan than a genius without one.


Make no mistake.  Having goals and a solid plan for them is essential to success.  After all, success doesn’t fall into our lap one day.  It’s a process of planning and doing that while often grueling and thankless along the way, produces rewards beyond our wildest expectations.


SMART has become the acronym of choice for describing how to set goals.  It stands for:


Specific – Exactly what do you want to accomplish in detail.

Measureable – How you will measure progress and success.

Attainable – Is it possible to accomplish in the given timeframe?

Relevant – Am I the right person and is this the right time?

Time-bound – What is the exact date it will be accomplished?


Great, so you have a SMART goal.  Now what? Setting a goal properly is only half the equation.  How do we get it done? To actually crush a SMART goal, there are a few other considerations that will help us accomplish our goals.  


The key to accomplishing anything is keeping it simple.  The more complex we make something, the less chance we’ll do it or keep doing it.  So let’s take our SMART goal and apply the IDIOT process.  


Are we suggesting that you should be a SMART IDIOT?  Well, yes. Take it from a genius named Albert Einstein:  “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”


Imagine the finish line.  

The daily grind is hard.  Sowing the seeds of success is back-breaking.  Being rejected and beat up is demoralizing. But we’re not going to let a scraped knee stop us from crossing the finish line, are we?


As a former competitive bodybuilder, I never particularly enjoyed picking up heavy things and putting them down.  I would go home every day aching and tired, knowing my next meal was bland fish and green beans, just like the 59 meals before that.


As wonderful as that may sound, it wasn’t the grind that got me excited.  It was the incredible physique I was able to build and display on stage when it counted.  It was accomplishing something that less than 1% of the world has ever dared to attempt. It was the promise I made to myself that I was proud to keep.


Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things we see when take our eyes off the goal.”  If we look at the blood, sweat, and tears, we’ll always find a way to avoid it. If we look at the ultimate prize, we’ll blot the sweat, wipe away the tears, and put a band-aid on it as we push forth towards a worthwhile goal.


Remember, we promised simple, not easy!


Don’t wait!  

There’s no time like yesterday, except right now.  How many infamous diets are starting tomorrow? How many well-meaning folks are going to start saving money tomorrow?  The fallacy is that there is always tomorrow. While that sounds good, tomorrow never really comes and one day, neither will today.


Procrastination is the kiss of death.  It is the silent killer that is hardly recognized until it is too late.  It is often a sign that we’re overthinking it, afraid of it, or waiting for the right time.  All of the above will make the process of accomplishment difficult to impossible.


Even one small thing today can be more powerful than a grand plan that starts next week.  Something special happens in our minds when even the smallest accomplishment is done: We begin to believe we can actually do it, which builds our confidence and improves our attitude.


Taking the first step also build momentum that can carry us to the next step and the next after that.  


Increase activity.  

Few things are more demoralizing than reducing the size of a goal.  It is a hit on our identity, our attitude, and ultimately our success.  Sometimes it may be necessary based on circumstances or conditions that have changed, but often it can be avoided by simply increasing activity.


Never make a goal smaller, make your effort bigger.  What if instead of moving the finish line closer to where we are, we pick up the pace and move faster towards where it is?  After all, most goals require a lot of small activities done over and over. Not unlike running a foot race.


The biggest challenge with moving the finish line, though, is knowing when to stop moving it.  We can end up in a slippery slope of moving the goal until the goal hits us before we can hit it.  This won’t do us or our future any good.


Instead, we can do the small things faster and the big things bigger.


One Focus.

Distractions are everywhere.  From social media to TV to someone else’s drama, we have an endless source of ways to spend our time doing things that won’t get us to where we wish to be.  These are the obvious ones, though. A tad bit of self-discipline can overcome these distractions that we know we must let go.


The challenge is when we try to do to many “productive” things at once.  Or at least things we feel are productive. Even if we are doing a variety of things that are by themselves productive, done concurrently, they may pull us in different directions.  And that’s one tug-o-war we won’t win.


The guiding question is to determine what our overall mission is.  It would be the equivalent of writing our eulogy in life. Once we know how we wish to be viewed and the legacy we leave when we’re gone, then it’s only a matter of doing only those things that move us towards that larger mission.


Focus is actually an acronym:  Follow One Course Until Successful.  Don’t try to spin 18 plates, just spin one or two plates really fast and really well.


Dedicate Time

Speaking of distractions, we’re in a busy world.  We’re busy with kids, career, school, traffic and countless other things that must be done, but that don’t necessarily help us achieve our goals.  What if we can dedicate time to what’s important AND to accomplishing and crushing our goals?


It is imperative that we define the word “time” for what it is.  It’s our life. We don’t get any of it back if wasted and even the wealthiest of people cannot simply buy more of it.  It’s our one non-renewable resource and we have the choice to invest it wisely or spend it foolishly.


Think of investing time (life) as using it intentionally, whereas spending time is allowing others to use it.  Imagine scheduling in time (yes, you may need to use a real calendar) to handle all the important things and then intentionally scheduling in time to reach your goal.  


With a dedicated schedule and enough self-discipline, it’s not if you achieve your goal, it’s only when.


The good news is that if we take our goals seriously, we’ll find that life becomes a process of constant improvement, unconditional happiness, and level of wealth in each aspect beyond our wildest dreams.  It only takes the desire, will, and some action.



  • Do you agree with us about our IDIOT process for goals?
  • Did any of these things surprise you?
  • Do you have a story you’d like to share about an experience you or a friend have had with achieving or not achieving a goal?



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