Remember how fucking annoying these things were?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I distinctly remember rolling my eyes the first time I heard this (sorry Dad). It was College Transitions, a total throwaway class I definitely didn’t need but had been told to take (annoying; coulda taken cooler classes). Little did I know… this was only the beginning of SMART Goals’ reign.
During my first two years (also known as requisite, introductory course Hell), my classes essentially taught the same thing under a different title for the first two months before sharply pivoting into the Land of Overly-Specified Scopes. During this time, I heard so much about SMART goals, I almost started to wonder if they were paid promotions: Tell them to set specific goals! Measurable goals! Goals that are Achievable! Realistic! And of course, goals that have a Timeline! YAY!
Fuck SMART Goals, I thought.
I maintained this approach for all five fantastic years of college. (Let’s be real – only the Victory Lap year was fantastic. All that other shit sucked.)
And then I graduated college, continued running the business I started in undergrad, and, much like everything else I learned in college that ended up having very little real-life utility, I didn’t give one friggin’ thought to SMART Goals.
…Until last week, while watching Happy, a documentary on Netflix. At one point, a man declares his goals, “to be successful, to be happy, and to live a long, healthy life.” Basic, and true for most people. Things that I’ve even said at one point in my life. And yet, my immediate thought was, “Well, those are fucking terrible goals because what do they even mean?” I’m pretty sure I even said this out loud, to myself, while I was putting away my clothes.
And right then, from who knows where, that pesky SMART Goal thought bubble burst right in my face, screaming: OH GOD THOSE ARE TERRIBLE GOALS! THEY’RE SO VAGUE! YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW THE HORRORS AND FEELINGS OF FAILURE YOU’RE SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR. FOOL! DOES NO ONE REMEMBER SMART GOALS?! USE THEM, PLEASE, GOD, USE THEM. USE THEM RIGHT NOW CUZ THOSE GOALS SUCK. YOU’LL BE DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT ACTUAL GOALS. YOU’RE JUST SAYING WORDS! OH GOD HELP THE OTTERS AND THE BIRDS AND THE FISH IN THE SEA, THIS SHIP IS GOING TO GO DOWN.
After the blaring horns ceased, I exhaled an ironic laugh smothered in disgust. Extra fuck SMART Goals, I thought again, because now I’ve discovered a practical use for them, which ruins the hate-fire I carried on my torch all those years.
I hate myself, my internal bitch moped.
Yeah, I hate us right now, too, Internal Bitch. I sighed.
Life has a funny way of really driving a point home. And it’s usually over things you once thought were so ridiculous (see also: everything in my life ever).
My response is annoyingly ironic because I used to say, “When I grow up, I want to be happy.” Yeah, I was that asshole.
It seemed simple, and I liked that. Nothing too specific, so I couldn’t be wildly disappointed (still haven’t learned how to manage disappointment. LOL, AM I ADULTING YET). Vague enough (I realize this is the opposite of SMART, but in spite of the evidence, SMART can still go fuck itself), while also being manageable given the myriad of minuscule things that bring happiness to my feely place.
However, in the ensuing years, I’ve discovered this vague “Hey, let’s be fucking happy” goal kind of sucks. How do I know I’m happy? Is this happy enough? Is this ‘the right happy’? Wait, what the fuck is the right happy? Fuck. Now I don’t know. AM I EVEN HAPPY?!
Few quick things about happiness:
- Wanting it usually makes you unhappy, a wisdom nugget from Mark Manson (more can be found on his website; I highly recommend everything). You can (should) read his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. It’s in the first chapter and the whole book rocks. Unless you don’t like the word fuck, which means my blog probably isn’t for you, either.
- Happiness is sort of like weight loss or bodybuilding. You’re never satisfied. Once you get to where you wanted to be, you want more. An ex pointed this out during a workout. “No such thing as ‘enough.’ You’ll get the abs, and then you’ll want something else. You’re never ‘done.'” Annoying, because as he said it, I knew he was right.
- Happiness is generally none of the things you think it will be.
So now that I’ve realized the horror I set myself up for with my original, vague, crappy happy goal… Have I been happy since I said that 5 years ago?
Yes… And also no. I’ll spare the details and say there were times of blindingly brilliant happiness… sandwiched by long stretches of dark, deep sadness and dissatisfaction. So, you know… life.
So what did this unprompted SMART Goal invasion remind me?
- SMART Goals = still annoying.
- Not knowing what you want (LOL my life, which I wrote about a year ago; still ongoing), makes it hard to know if you’re going in the right direction.
- People hate it when you don’t know, and they’ll nag you because they think they’re “helping.” Suggestion: Whip out SMART Goals and go off on a tangent to confuse them. Huzzah!
- Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, but rather the neat byproduct of accomplishing things that fill your self-worth bucket.
- If your goals provoke the response, “What does that even mean?” you need a do-over.
- SMART Goals do, in fact, have real-life applicability.
- I still hate SMART Goals.