HARD Goals

Many studies have pointed to the value of setting goals to achieving success. I know with my personal experience, and that of working with many students, coaching clients and others over the years this certainly is true. I have long been a proponent of SMART goals. I clearly have not been alone on this idea as a Google search this morning turned around 3,060,000 hits when searching SMART goals. Like all good things, over time they evolve into even better things.

I am rapidly becoming a fan of HARD goals. The concept of hard goals was outlined first by Mark A Murphy in his book Hard Goals: The Secret To Getting From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be. The acronym hard stands for:

  • Heartfelt: My goals will enrich the lives of somebody besides me.
  • Animated: I can vividly picture how great it will feel when I achieve my goals.
  • Required: My goals are absolutely necessary to help this company.
  • Difficult: I will have to learn new skills and leave my comfort zone to achieve my assigned goals for this year.

The logic behind these is very sound. Heartfelt asks the question of whom else? I have found when I asked this of coaching clients that often the results are profound and instantaneous. When what you’re doing is for the general good, beyond yourself, particularly when linked to family, it takes you to a newer, higher level with strong motivation.  Animated, takes advantage of the technique of visualizing the outcome you desire. Athletes have long known that if you visualize something happening often enough when the situation actually comes up you know exactly how to deal with it. You have seen yourself deal with it time and time again in your visualizations. This is a very powerful technique that I use both for myself and for my clients. When I vividly visualize the outcome then everything seems to conspire for me to get the desired outcome. The notion of required is that it’s much easier to do things if there’s a real purpose and a purpose that you can see clearly. Difficult is this surprising one. For most people, if the goal is too easy you simply did not devote the time, resources or efforts to it. When it is something that’s and worthwhile people tend to work harder to achieve it and therefore can achieve hard goals easier than easy goals.

The other difficulty is that I have come find with smart goals is that people really have no idea of what is realistic for them. Far more often than not, people tend to underestimate what they can achieve if they set their mind to it. We have been bombarded since we were children with notions of being realistic and “get real”. Therefore, people have learned not to put set their expectations too high. That way they will not be disappointed. While your goals still, should be based on being achievable, be very careful as to what you define as achievable. You may be capable of a great deal more than you think.


If all your goals and New Year’s resolutions (such as a weekly blog 😉 ) have not worked out as planned then give this a try. Please add your comments if you have tried this and let us know how you make out.