[Warning: If you are interested in a calm, comfortable life, this blog will be counterproductive for you.]

Friday, June 29, 2012

Which Goals Shouldn't Be SMART--My "Someday" List

Today, I'm disagreeing with what I've said before.  Earlier this week I posted on goals, arguing for them to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Aggressive, Realistic, Time-Bounded). However, I'm now saying that not all goals should be SMART.

I still believe that well-defined goals provide greater motivation and ability to take action--they get done more than vague goals.

But, in some cases, I will stop trying to make them too specific. As you look into the future, it's basically a waste of time to do detailed plans. Of course, there are a few exceptions, like knowing your kids will plan to attend college in several years. But so much else is going to change that for most goals I'd be reduced to wild guessing. I'm not willing to commit myself to a goal that's a wild guess.

So, just skip writing  them down, right? Wrong. There's still value in capturing great ideas for later. In fact, I just finished a conversation where I wrote down an idea that I'd love to do someday--I just don't know when I can do it.

Specifically, one of my best friends showed me a graduation present given to him (he just finished an MBA) that was a custom made book (the title even included his name) of fun articles and information to read now that he doesn't have reading for school to do. I love the idea, but I don't have anyone else in my life with a similar enough situation that I can give them a custom book, printed just for them.

So I added it to my "someday list".

A few years back a movie made the term "bucket list" popular. My list is kind of like that, but there's an subtle difference. When I put items on my someday list, I have no commitment whatsoever to do them. They're amazingly fun, cool ideas--I love them all. But if I don't get to them before I die, I'll be fine.

So why write down something you are committing to do? Why not just make a mental note and let it go?

  1.  Capturing these ideas and reviewing them a few times a year greatly increases the chances that they happen. It's normal for me to read my list and "remember" that I wanted to do one of those things. I find myself looking for those opportunities more--and sometimes even moving one off the someday list to my actual to do list.

  1. It sparks creativity and excitement and helps me dream about what kind of life I want to live.

In the spirit of that, I thought I'd add a portion of my someday list (over the years, it's grown to 107 items--you see why I'm not holding myself to do them all). Oh, and you'll get a fun glimpse of my personality here. My wife does not plan on joining me for many of the most extreme ones (it probably won't be hard to guess which ones).

  • Visit the best of the 58 national parks (Yosemite, Grand Canyon, etc)
  • Race on a dogsled (and yell "mush" while doing it)
  • Eat at Berns Steakhouse in Tampa, FL (and do tour of their kitchens & wine cellar)
  • Visit MIT's Media Labs to see latest inventions (and how they come up with them)
  • Kayak the top rivers in the US (including at least one 15+ foot drop)
  • Go to Knobb Creek gun range in Kentucky for their Machine Gun Shoot, using 50 caliber machine gun to destroy vehicles, appliances, etc (including added dynamite for fun)
  • Set up a "creative lab" in my home office (foam & glue to prototype ideas, unusual objects, inspiring quotes, microscope, big whiteboard, etc)
  • Expand the rules on the strategy board game I've created and try to sell it
  • Jump off a giant ski jump (and survive landing)
  • Surf giant waves off of Maui using jet skis to pull you on to the fast moving waves
  • Fly--well, jump from a cliff in a wingsuit and zoom through a canyon
  • Visit the Parthenon (in Greece) and write an essay sitting on it's steps
  • Do a leadership development workshop for Mensa
  • Take sword-fighting/fencing lessons--become a black belt (or similar) with at least one sword/style
  • Ride in a through-the-forest horse race--create it if necessary (note: I'm only a passable rider, so I'd probably have some training to do)
  • Write a series of novels on the fantasy world I've created
  • Go on a deep sea dive to view bioluminescence--in a deep sea rover?
  • Do an outdoor adventure expedition to either the North or South Pole (I'm told there is a company called Quark that has 1/2 price tickets on polar adventures the week before if they have open seats)
  • Take my kids to the moon (space tourism, here we come!)

What's your someday list? What ideas were sparked in your head when you read mine? Write them down somewhere. Maybe it's a document on your computer or a notebook on your desk. Start dreaming--no commitment required.

Oh, and share with the rest of us. Dreams shared inspired more dreams.


  1. I've experienced bioluminescence. It's interesting for most of 5 minutes. The FUN part is when you experience it at night AT THE SURFACE and you swim in it. I know just the island off the coast of Colombia for you to enjoy that....

    1. I'm totally adjusting that someday item to include swimming in bioluminescence! Thanks for the idea.

  2. Cool list. I just realized I'm the complete opposite of you. I've finished the only thing I cared to do in life (get married to my soul mate), but now I'm excited about helping other people achieve their dreams... Speaking of, been to Berns Steakhouse in Tampa, FL yet?

    1. 1. The size of your list doesn't matter. Larger isn't better than smaller. It's totally a quirk of my personality that I want to do such a wide variety, not a fundamental principle of an exceptional life.

      2. I've totally been to Berns Steakhouse in Tampa--amazing experience. In fact, it's on my someday list to take my wife to eat there. Did you take the tour?