Andrew G. Cooper
Throw Out Your SMART Goals. It's Time to Dream BIG.
I love New Year's resolutions. New Year's Eve is my favourite holiday because I like new beginnings and fresh starts. I like looking back on the year, what I've accomplished, and how I've grown. Most of all, I love setting goals and looking to the future.
In my last post, I wrote about the journey I've been on over the last twelve months, but now I want to talk about how I look forward and how I set goals.
You've probably heard of SMART goals. People use the acronym to help them set goals and work towards them. Well, for this year, I think it's time to throw these sort of goals out the window. Why, you may ask? Well, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. Let's start with are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. In a lot of situations, these sort of goals can be very useful. For example, I've been doing a lot of strategic planning for companies I work for such as Ghost River Theatre and Jupiter Theatre and SMART goals are great of a strategic plan. And for myself, I create a list of achievable, measurable goals each year that I want to accomplish. The list varies from year to year, but a lot of the items stay the same every December 31st. These are the sort of goals that I love to check off of my list as the year goes on. Here are some examples of what I'm aiming to do in 2022.
Run 1,000 km
Read 26 books
Read 52 plays/screenplays
Plant a Tree
But for me, a New Year's resolution should be more than that. A resolution isn't a goal, it's something that you're committing to doing or becoming. It's something you're resolving to be. For me, a New Year's resolution should not be something that's measurable or even specific. My resolutions over the last few years have been focused on the kind of person that I want to be. Past years have included being more honest with myself, connecting more with others, and standing up for what I believe in. This past year it was listening to my intuition. Did I always succeed at this? No, not always. But I was striving for it and I think that made me a better artist and a better person.
My New Year's resolution is something that I reevaluate on the first day of every month. I want to feel out how my progress is going. When it comes to character growth, there's not real end goal. My resolutions are about the journey, not about checking something off of a list.
For 2022, I am resolving to be my authentic self. I want to discover who I am as an individual and express that in my personal and professional life.
So resolutions are different than goals (at least in my world, you may disagree, that's cool). What about the goals you want to set for the new year? So you've got a few SMART goals (or something that's close) to check off your list. You've got a resolution on how you want to grow in the year. What's next?
It's time to start dreaming big. This year I've been focusing on dreaming and pursuing things that really fill me with passion (in part because Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way reminded me that I can). Your dream goals don't have to be realistic. They don't have to be time-bound. You are not a strategic plan! You're a human!
In the past few years I've been caught up in goals that I can a really attain. But you know what? Screw that! Now I want BIG goals! Goals that fill me with wonder and awe. Child-like goals and childish goals. I want to dream so big that my potential bursts from its seams. And why not?
According to the Association of Psychology Newfoundland and Labrador last year, 80% of New Year's Resolutions would fail by mid-February. So if you're probably going to fail anyway, why not dream as BIG as you can?!
What do you want? What do you really, really want? What fills you with passion and delight? Really think about it. Really see it. Write it down. And in this year, go for it.
Don't limit yourself when you're making these big dream goals. Don't hold yourself back. You want to spend your time writing fiction in a cottage in the French countryside? Great. Want to perform on Broadway? Go for it. You want to run your own company? Let's do it! Did I ever think I would actually get to work with the legendary Jim Henson Company? Nope! But I went for it this year and it happened. Talk about dream come true!
Instead of making carefully crafted SMART goals, I say dream big and then do your best to go after those dreams. This is also why I aim to get 100 rejections every year. Dream big and then fail big. Get big rejections. Get out of your comfort zone! Dream the biggest thing possible and then go after them as much as you can.
So that's what I'm doing this year. Yes, I have my resolution that I will be working on every month. Yes, I'll have goals that I can check off my list throughout the year. But I have dreams that I'll be chasing for the rest of my life. And who knows? Maybe one day some of them will come true.