Stop Using SMART Goals And Use PACT Instead

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Stop Using SMART Goals And Use PACT Instead

Ever heard of the SMART framework for goal-setting?

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

It's one of the most widely known frameworks for people trying to set effective goals. And its not bad if you don't have a goal framework.

But there is a framework that is better at ensuring you achieve your ultimate goal and that is the PACT framework.

  • Purposeful
  • Actionable
  • Continuous
  • Trackable

What's Wrong With SMART?

Again, its not that the SMART framework doesn't work. It's better than nothing.

But it creates a focus on the wrong thing: the OUTCOME.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear wrote...

"You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems."

When we are focused on the endgame, we leave ourselves open to external factors that are out of our control. This can cause swings in results and motivation.

We should always know where the peak of the mountain we are climbing is, but you climb the mountain focusing on your next few steps, not the top.

Why Is PACT Better?

Purposeful should be a goal that is long-term and has meaning to your life or work. It's not something that's just relevant at this moment.

When a goal is aligned with your passions and objectives in life, you will feel more motivated.

Goals should be Actionable so you can control them. 

We want to focus on things that are within our control and not mix them with things outside of it.

Shift your mindset from distant outcomes in the future to present outputs.

The actions we are taking should be simple and repeatable which makes them Continuous.

This is one of the most important distinctions between SMART and PACT. Having a focus on a simple process that over time will yield incredible results.

A great story is about the English National Cycling Team who didn't win a race for over 100 years. They were the epitome of suck.

Then their new coach came in and focused on getting 1% better everday. Nothing dramatic changed for the first year, but by year 3, they were beating everyone.

The other powerful aspect of a simple process is preventing choice paralysis. Too many options with anything can prevent you from reaching your goals.

Then the last aspect is making sure its Trackable. What gets measured, gets improved.

Goal tracking should be a yes/no dichotomy in most situations.

  • Did you run 2 miles today?
  • Have you made 20 sales calls today?
  • Did you publish your weekly newsletter or podcast?

This makes progress very easy to track.

 

Side-By-Side Examples

SMART: Get 20,000 newsletter subscribers in 6 months

PACT: Publish 25 newsletters over the next 25 weeks

SMART: Reach $100,000 net worth by 31

PACT: Invest $250 every month 

See the SMART goals require an extensive plan to hit the target. I can try to get 20,000 subscribers in a few months but many things outside of my control may go wrong.

I may have a plan to reach $100,000 net worth by 31. But I could get fired from my job and not have an emergency fund therefore driving me further into credit card debt. Or I could become injured and unable to perform at my job causing me to earn less.

The PACT goals are much more attainable in the short term and if done continuously over a long period of time could lead to significant results. 

An added bonus is if something goes wrong or isn't working, the PACT goal is easier to adjust than the SMART goal which would require big changes to the plan.

This is why I recommend using PACT over SMART.

 

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