SMART vs. VAPID Goals

I was listening to the Art of Manliness Podcast #204: How To Be Miserable and got inspired.

Not to try to be miserable – guest Dr. Randy Paterson’s advice is to find ways that you are already making yourself miserable, and stop doing those things. At least, not do them as much.

After all, there is no magic pill or psychological technique that can take anyone from “black dog gnawing on my soul” to “move over, Pollyanna!” in one giant leap. On the other hand, it is possible to make small, incremental changes to make tomorrow suck 2% less than today. String enough of those days together and… suddenly, life may not be awesome but it can be a lot better than it was before.

One of the ways to make yourself miserable is to set VAPID goals. Paterson created VAPID as the opposite of SMART goals. If SMART goals are

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-defined

then VAPID goals are

  • Vague
  • Amorphous
  • Pie in the sky
  • Irrelevant
  • Delayed

I know I’ve set VAPID goals for myself before. Paterson is right, they are a great way to be miserable. I recommend avoiding them.

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