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  • SMART Goals vs. HARD Goals

    photoYou probably have a lot of goals that you would like to achieve, whether they relate to your business, your brand, your health, or something else in your life. Obviously, the desire to achieve a goal is usually not enough, and many of us need a clear plan to get there.

    Here are two different ways to map out your goals:

    SMART Goals

    I’ve gone into detail about SMART goals before in this post, but here’s a reminder of what SMART goals are:

    • Specific: Clearly define your target or end result. Avoid being vague and instead think about the who, what, where, when, why and how of your goal.
    • Measurable: Think about the numbers associated with your goal. How will you measure success?
    • Action-oriented: Develop a plan of action in order to achieve your goal. Make it as specific as possible.
    • Realistic: Make sure your goal is possible and reachable. You can always make additional goals once you’ve reached your initial result.
    • Time-bound: Set a deadline to motivate yourself towards change.

    HARD Goals

    SMART goals can help you on your path to success—and so can HARD goals. This tactic, coined by Mark Murphy in HARD GOALS: The Secrets to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (McGraw-Hill), taps into an individual’s emotional, visual, survival, and learning systems – enabling you to visualize what you need to achieve.

    • Heartfelt: Develop deep-seated and heartfelt attachments to your goals on levels that are intrinsic, personal and extrinsic. Use these connections to naturally increase the motivational power you put behind making your goals happen.
    • Animated: Create goals that are so vividly alive in your mind that to not reach them would leave you wanting. Use visualization and imagery techniques to sear your goal firmly into your brain including perspective, size, color, shape, distinct parts, setting, background, lighting, emotions and movement.
    • Required: Give procrastination (which kills far too many goals) the boot. Convince yourself and others of the absolute necessity of your goals and make the future payoffs of your goals appear far more satisfying than what you can get today. This will make your HARD Goals look a whole lot more attractive and amp up your urgency to get going on them right now.
    • Difficult: Construct goals that are optimally challenging to tap into your own personal sweet spot of difficulty. Access past experiences to use them to position you for extraordinary performance. Identify your goal setting comfort zone and push past it in order to attain the stellar results you want.

    Murphy discovered that goal success isn’t determined by daily habits, raw intellect, or writing numbers on a worksheet, and that it actually depends on the engagement of your brain. HARD goals can help you do that.

    What do you think about HARD vs. SMART goals? How do you ensure success in the goals you set for yourself? Any advice for other professionals?


    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010) and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.


    Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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    4 comments on “SMART Goals vs. HARD Goals
    1. avatar
      Alex says:

      I live and breath the smart goal system but I love the HARD goal part – never heard of that side of it.
      I also think the biggest mistake people make is thinking that a goal and an objective are the same thing. You need objectives to reach goals, and the SMARTer the goal, the more chance you will set realistic and achievable objectives to get to that point.

      Thanks for sharing Heather, great post

    2. avatar

      Great post Heather. Just want to add a goal setting resource to compliment your post here. It’s a goal setting app called GoalsOnTrack and it has worked very well for me. It saves me a lot of time in keeping track of my goals and most importantly it helps me better organize my daily todos towards achieving my goals. –

    3. avatar
      Charles says:

      Awesome read this morning. i have been inspire to evaluate both of this goal settings tags. i will definitely share them with my colleagues.

    4. avatar
      Dan Jones says:

      Planning is critical. we work with cancer sufferers, people battling depression and people needing serious motivation and having a good plan is so important.

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