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Are HARD Goals, Not SMART Goals, the Key to Career Development?

“SMART” goals are prevalent in business. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Many swear by this practical approach to goal-setting. But in an article for Forbes, Mark Murphy shares research indicating that SMART may not be useful in the domain of career development, and he instead introduces the concept of “HARD” goals.

Goals & Acronyms

Murphy studied 4,182 workers across 397 organizations and found that the presence of SMART goals had “no meaningful correlation with employees achieving great things.” And though more than half of workers believed that their set goals would help them maximize their full potential, only 13 percent strongly believed that. Murphy seems to argue that if there is not strong conviction that goals are worthwhile, then the goals are not good enough.

If you believe that line of reasoning, then he suggests HARD goals instead, standing for heartfelt, animated, required, and difficult. HARD seems to be geared more at individual accomplishment than SMART. It basically makes you ask questions to more fully understand why your goals are what they are and how you might attain them.

“Animated” asks you to develop a vivid picture of where you would like to be in a few years’ time. “Heartfelt” makes you provide at least three reasons that you want your goal. “Difficult” asks you to decide what skills you need to develop in order to reach your goal. And “required” asks you to decide what action you need to take within the next 90 days (etc.) to keep on top of your goals in a timely way.

The principle sounds a bit trite to me, but Murphy’s overall idea is sound. Employee engagement increases when workers feel a sense of purpose in their work, and HARD goals might ensure that a sense of purpose is present. Play with the idea and see how it suits you.

You can view the original article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/markmurphy/2017/06/11/hard-goals-not-smart-goals-are-the-key-to-career-development/

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid’s Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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