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.

If you agree, why don’t you add yourself to my mailing list?


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  • http://profile.typepad.com/lucianadrian Lucianadrian

    I really like your straight forward attitude!
    Indeed, some time ago, setting SMART goals was difficult, and in the mean time, it looks to me that everybody is now capable to set SMART goals …
    About the purpose, getting to know the purpose of something (e.g. application, user story), one can determine more subtle and not worded requests.
    When is your next book about purpose identification ? 🙂
    How can better identifying the purpose of every action can make Melly happier ?

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