On Goals and Models
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“It’s important to set SMART goals.”
“Remind me what SMART stands for.”
“Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound.”
“We can nuance this discussion – and any discussion – by using mental models.
You can metaphorically think of them as lenses through which we examine the issue.
Several models are particularly useful in this endeavor:
– Levels of Magnification [<link; short read]
By using them, we get several more useful goals-related models.
Through the focus lens we get:
– process goals – goals where you’re focused on the process (eg write for an hour)
– outcome goals – goals where you’re focused on the outcome (eg write an article)
Through the length lens we get:
– short-term goals
– long-term goals
– lifelong goals“
“What if I’m also interested in medium-term goals?”
“We can switch to a more granular lens:
– short/medium/long/very long
Through the size lens we get:
– big goals
– small goals
Through the level of magnification lens we get:
– macro goals
– micro goals“
“Aren’t these last two a bit redundant?”
“Using different metaphoric models can open up radical new insights.
For instance big goals prompts the use of Big Thinking [<link; medium read], an extraordinarily powerful model.
Through the finitude lens we get:
– finite goals
– infinite goals
Through the meaning lens we get:
– intrinsic goals – goals that are meaningful in themselves
– extrinsic goals – goals that are instrumental to achieving other goals
The more lenses you use, the more nuanced the potential analysis.
SMART goals are outcome goals. Outcome goals are important, but only on the background of bigger goals.
You can metaphorically think of it as levels of magnification. As you keep zooming out, you see bigger and bigger goals.
The biggest most powerful goals are those you cannot reach.“