Purpose Over Targets
I recently gave someone my business card, because he asked for it during an interesting conversation. A few days later, to my surprise, it turns out he had added me to his personal business mailing list, and I received one promotional email after another.
I hate that.
The purpose of my work is to help many people be happy in their work. Of course, I also have a mailing list. I use it to send people articles that maybe will help them improve their jobs, and be happy. In order to push my performance I could set myself a target, such as “2500 subscribers before the end of the year”. By reaching more people I could possibly help more people, and fulfill my purpose. And yes, every now and then I ask my contacts, “Do you want to be on my mailing list?” Nothing wrong with that, I think.
Of course, I could add all 7,000 contacts in my database to the mailing list. That would make me reach my target right now. Woohoo! But, would it help me with my purpose? I don’t think so.
People would hate me.
That’s the difference between a purpose and a target. And that’s why I don’t like how many apply the SMART model for goals, because the SMART model moves people’s attention away from a purpose to a target. Your targets are useless if you can’t identify your purpose.
A well-defined SMART goal helps you decide how to reach your target. Your purpose should help you realize how not to reach it.
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