Life Skills 101 #2. Part two of Goal setting

In the last life skill missive, we looked at SMART goal setting, and to continue with this, it is time to unpack DUMB goal setting.  

D Desperate

U Unlikely to succeed

M Monumental

B Bollocks,


D is for Desperate.

This sort of plan is a reactive cluster in response to an unanticipated, unforeseen, or wilfully ignored problem. Some sort of immediate action is required, so choices and decisions need to made.

Right Now.

If you have let things get this far, then it is also likely that your instant decision making skills will be as shabby as your forward planning. None of this bodes well.

U is for Unlikely to succeed

The sort of measures required to pull through desperate times tend towards the unrealistic or draconian. This might be okay in the short term, but for anything longer than a month, your simply setting yourself up to fail. Miserably.

M is for Monumental

As in it is going to be a monumental cock up. To many DUMB goals rely on assumptions, or a lucky roll of the dice. This even more of a cock up when the assumption or die throw is right at the end of the plan

B is for Bollocks

This comes at the end of this mnemonic as the phrase “ Oh Bollocks “ usually accompanies the end of any DUMB action plan towards any given goal.


DUMB action plans are usually in response to something wilfully ignored until it’s too late, something unanticipated, or something unforeseen. If a situation requires a DUMB response you are clearly in the bad place, and need to move. Try to step back from it, metaphorically. Take a deep breath, and see if you cannot turn a DUMB plan into a SMART plan. Try a bit of forward planning. You may find a cup of tea helps.

Have a splendid day.


Life Skills 101. #1 Setting Goals Part one.

What is a goal? In this context it’s a thing, a place, a person or a qualification you want, or want to be at or with. Roughly. We are not referring to the game of football, as in football the goal is already set, on the ground, and comes with a handy net at the back to save some poor soul walking miles to get the ball back.

Your goal setting is very dependent on your status and position in life, and it is very important to set realistic or smart goals. Dumb goals are pointless, but surprisingly common.

Mnemonics are very popular in the Goal setting industry. Oh yes, there is a whole industry and sub culture to support you in setting goals. Many trillions of words have been committed to the internet on this topic, beaten only by pictures of cats and porn. Many ostensibly intelligent, sassy and suave folk will even sell you a course on how to set your goals, and some of them even have really impressive sounding qualifications, to reassure you that they know their shit.

I would like to assure you that I too am extremely well qualified to tell you what to do.

I graduated from “Barelyfinishedhighschool” in the nineteen eighties, completed a Masters in Sarcasm the following year, then a further Doctorate in Cynicism in 2001.

Now I have bull shitted about my qualifications, we can move on. See, your unlikely to be reading this because I mentioned Mnemonics a couple of lines ago, and also the word smart just before it. Your brain will be filling in the gaps now and your eye will be drawn to the bold text below. I feel safe to mention a small pink hamster at this point because no one will notice.

S is for Slippery slope

M is for Might as well

A is for Attitude

R is for Rest

T is always a good idea.


D is for Desperate

U is for Unlikely to succeed

M is for Monumental

B is for Bollocks

See there are many similarities in the two sorts of goal setting. Lets unpack the SMART model..

S is for Slippery slope.

Many less experienced Goal setters will try and tell you that S denotes Specific. They will try to convince you to focus on a single issue, like, complete my revision timetable, or, binge watch Celebrity bake off on an icy Island, or some other worthy life changing thing. Note that life changing does not necessarily mean for the better. In my qualified ( see above ) opinion, goal setting is a slippery slope. Sometimes you just got to go with the flow. No matter what you think you goal should be, shit will surely happen and any plans you have will be derailed. If you set goals then you also set yourself up for failure, upset, misery, depression, despair, and generally looking like a bit of a dick. Relax, the grass will still grow, the sun will still rise, and it will probably rain on your day off. You need to be aware of the danger of setting goals, it’s a slippery slope.  Here is a picture of a slide to break up the text.


M is for Might as well.

Here the less well qualified amateurs implore you use the word measurable. Really How can you measure the pleasure in watching clouds race across the sky? Its measuring things that leads to all sorts of problems. Read Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which claims to have little to do with Zen, and even less to do with maintaining motorcycles. It has a lot to do with giving your full attention to the thing in front of you. If you can be arsed to do it, do it right.   If a company is measured on how many things it makes, it might hit that goal. But if its measured on how many it actually sells, and how many are returned with faults, then the measurement has more meaning.  It gets quite complicated, measuring stuff. It implies having to attribute a nominal value or quantity, or even quantify an abstract thing. In my extensive experience, if you have got as far as needing an M, it may as well stand for Might As Well.

A is for Attitude.

This is one of those rare occasions the self proclaimed Goal setting experts get it almost right. They command you to set an Achievable Goal. Any idiot can sit in front of a piece of paper, clutching a crayon in clumsy grip, and say to themselves, yes, that’s achievable because that’s what I want. And they will feel big and beautiful, empowered and bold. All while sitting in front of their list. I submit to you that anything is achievable, more or less, but nothing will happen without Attitude.

Case study. Earnest is an obese 48 year old male, and has decided for some reason to set a SMART goal. He wants to run a Marathon.  It’s achievable because it actually could be done. It’s not going to be achieved without some serious attitude. The dude need to sort out his eating habits, and get those legs moving. It will require months if not years of training, often painful, sweaty, in the cold and wet. It will require Grit and Determination. Attitude, that’s what we’re on about. The inner anger with yourself that drives you from the warmth of the duvet, to pound the street whatever the weather, for day after day, week after week. No more slumped on the sofa demolishing a packet of biscuits in front of the telly….Attitude. Achievable my arse.

R is for Rest.

The internet dwelling Guros of Goal setting will try and sell you this as standing for Realistic. Just like the rest of it, they are wrong. R is for Rest. Give yourself a pat on the back, and put your feet up. You have done a lot today, and the brain is possibly overheated. The importance of rest is not stressed enough. Proper goal setting is exhausting and time consuming. If you’ve got this far, then you deserve a rest. Don’t worry about goals being realistic, you have attitude, you could do anything. You won’t of course, but you could.

T is always a good idea.


Thank you very much, got any coffee? Black for preference, with a splash of cold on top. Yes really, you put milk in your tea don’t you? Yes I might be sarcastic, but I haven’t got an asbestos mouth. Got any biscuits to go with that ? It is always a good idea to have a brew. Others will tell you T stands for timescale, that you made up goal should be completed in a made up and arbitrary time frame. I would say it’s important to stay hydrated, and while your up, could you put the kettle on.


That is SMART planning boxed off. What a lot of folk do is DUMB planning. That will be covered in Life Skills #2.

To help with your goal setting, here is an example.

S. My cup is empty, it needs filing.

M. Filled with nice warming beverage.

A. Shout at co workers or subordinates to make tea.

R. Always nice to remain seated and have tea made for you.

T.  Always helps, got any biscuits?

Now you have the information you need and are therefore empowered to achieve world domination.     Once you’ve finished your tea.
To be continued….