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No matter what area of your life you’re working on, you need to have some type of framework and target when you’re setting goals. But considering there are several different goal categories and methods of working toward achieving what you want, you may wonder what the benefits are of stretch goals vs SMART goals, as both are commonly used in both a personal and professional setting.
While some people focus on attainable goals, others prefer setting potentially impossible goals to see how far they can go. Will one goal-setting method make you more successful than the next?
Think about the goals that you’re working on right now–or goals you have had in the past–and the goal-setting method you’ve used to help you make progress. Have you been successful? If you understand the difference between stretch goals vs SMART goals, you can easily determine which one is appropriate in your various goal-setting situations.
In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of each type of goal and examine some factors to keep in mind when you’re choosing which to use. Let’s get started.
A stretch goal is one that requires high risk and high effort. They’re intentionally set just out of reach in hopes of earning exponential rewards, opening new doors, and gaining new experiences. Stretch goals aren’t set with the intention to be achieved–rather, they’re created in order to inspire growth and push you beyond what you believe your limits are. Stretch goals can’t be achieved by simply working “harder” than you are right now. Rather, they’re designed to motivate you to leave your comfort zone and explore new ways to be successful.
When you’re hoping to achieve something that seems impossible, you have to develop creative techniques that you haven’t used before. However, when you’re setting your stretch goals, you should think big and focus on your outcome without worrying too much just yet about how you’re going to get there.
SMART goals, on the other hand, are used to help guide your goal planning in a way that ensures you will know exactly what you’re going to do to achieve the specific goal at hand and exactly when that goal has been accomplished. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates these criteria to help you set a goal that is focused and realistic to achieve.
Writing SMART goals is easy, you just have to write down the outcome that you desire and determine your deadline for achieving it. The harder part comes with actually taking the appropriate action that you initially promised to take when you wrote your goal. SMART goals often require you to do a little bit of work every day to make progress and be successful.
Here is an infographic comparing the pros and cons of stretch goals and SMART goals to help sum all of this up. You may find that some of the pros outweigh the cons for each of these types of goals…or vice versa.
Both types of goals are probably useful for you in their own unique way, but each type fosters its own kind of self-improvement. So, which is right for you? The answer to this probably depends on the specific scenario that you’re facing.
When deciding between creating a stretch goal and making a SMART goal, there are some factors to consider, such as: the type of goal, your timeline or deadline, your resources, how specific your goal is, if you already know what you have to do to be successful, and how comfortable you are with the potential of falling short.
Make a stretch goal if:
Make a SMART goal if:
You should know whether a stretch goal or a SMART goal is better for your success to improve your chances of achieving the growth that you desire. While both of these types of goals have their pros and cons when used on their own, they can be tied together to create an interdisciplinary mindset to guide you through taking specific steps today to achieve some greater dream in the long run.
You can use both stretch goals and SMART goals for personal advancement in any area of your life. Check out this article to read about the 7 areas of your life for setting important goals.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.