Hard Goals: The Science of Extraordinary Achievement by Mark Murphy is an excellent book on goal-setting, well worth reading by any ambitious person. The title is intended as a filter: if it scares you off, you shouldn’t read this book, because there are no easy ways to achieve hard goals.
There are, however, many mistakes you can make in goal-setting that will delay and hinder you and make your goals harder to achieve. This book points out these pitfalls and how to avoid them.
For example, Mark Murphy has the best critique of the “SMART” goals test that I’ve seen.
If you don’t know that reference, SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-limited. There is nothing bad about those common-sense criteria for goal-setting, but the SMART technique does not ensure that the goal will motivate you. Since the purpose of a goal is to motivate and guide action, this is a serious weakness.
Murphy addresses this issue head on in his book. He says goals should be “Heartfelt, Animated, Required, and Difficult,” hence the acronym “HARD.” I find this acronym to be hard to remember (!) but I completely agree with the points made under each heading. You need goals to be compelling so that they spur action. Using this approach, Murphy offers a lot of helpful advice to help you achieve your goals sooner rather than later or never.
For example, he shares six “tricks” for making the long-term value of something be immediately compelling. These have names like “put your present costs into the future” and “put your future benefits into the present.” You saw an application of this idea in the last newsletter on the “Anti-Procrastination Tactic.”
Murphy shows how this approach can be used more widely.
I prefer my own way to teach goal-setting, which integrates the immediate objectives (which are more like SMART goals) with the long-range “juicy” goals (which are more like HARD goals). But I learned a lot from this book, and I think you will, too.
II. Survey: Where should I hold the next Smarter Execution Workshop?
The Smarter Execution Workshop in NYC was a great success. Now I’m looking to schedule more public workshops around the country. If you’d like to vote on a location, or suggest a location for the next one, please fill out my poll:
Testimonials from the NYC workshop:
Jean’s workshop was excellent.
Well-organized, and lots of good material for achieving my goals and making decisions. It’s well worth the investment.
—Brian R. Lessing, Actuary & Adjunct Professor, New York University.
These are invaluable tools that can guide you through any tangle or conflict. Case in point: immediately following the workshop, a vital meeting was unexpectedly rescheduled. Your teaching had primed me for positive problem-solving, and take-one-step action. Despite the disruption, things turned out better than planned!
—Sharon Alex, Songwriter & Visual ArtistI recently attended Jean’s “Smarter Execution Workshop” and found several of her techniques very helpful for goal planning and management. Specifically, the “Thinking on Paper” concept proved to be very useful and I have already begun reaping its rewards. I would recommend this workshop to anyone who wants to improve their ability and judgment in defining and reaching their goals, regardless of their profession.
—Charles Guarino, President, Central Park Data SystemsI love doing the in-class exercises. It’s not just listening to ideas—you can actually do a lot of good, focused thinking during the workshop.
—Sarah Farivar-Hayes, PhD, New York, NY
III. Recent Posts on the Blog & Related Articles
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