There are many recommendations out there for setting goals. I’ve tested quite a few of them. However, the one that has been the most beneficial for me is the SMART method. Have you heard of SMART Goals before?
(S)pecific- When it comes to setting goals, the more specific you make them, the better. When you get really specific, not only do you have a better picture in your mind of exactly what you want to achieve, but it makes it easier to manage. The easier it is to manage, the more likely you will stick with it. For example, a common goal people make is to be financially stable. However, what does that look like? It could mean that you are earning just enough to get by. Or it could mean that you earn enough to pay your bills, cover all expenses, have a budget for fun things, and have enough money left over to pay off debt and start a savings account. To go further, you can say that you want to earn $5,000 each month. Remember, the more clarity, the better.
(M)easurable- Now that you have your specific goal, you have to make sure that it is measurable. Financial stability is not really measurable. However, your goal of $5,000 per month is. You can look at your paycheck each week to determine whether or not you are on track. You should always have a way to track your progress. If you can’t track your progress how do you know how far you have come or how much further you have to go?
(A)ttainable- Another important thing to consider is whether your goal is something that you can attain. In other words, do you possess the ability, attitude, knowledge, skills, and tools to get the job done? If you set goals that you are not equipped to achieve, you are possibly setting yourself up for failure. Either make your goals more attainable or commit to doing what you need to do to develop the aforementioned necessities for success.
(R)ealistic- In the same vein, you have to ensure that your goals are realistic. Unrealistic goals are likely to be abandoned or to frustrate you. For example, it is not realistic to expect to earn $10,000 in one month within the next two months if you are currently only earning $2,000 per month. Not only can setting unrealistic goals be frustrating, they can also detract from your feelings of success when you actually do make progress. For example, you might not earn $10,000, but what if your income grows from $2000 to $2500 in one month? It is not as big of a leap as $8,000, but an extra $500 is quite an achievement.
(T)imely- Finally, you want to make sure you have a deadline for your goals that is clear and reasonable. For example, another common goal is to lose weight. Say someone wants to lose 15 pounds. A timely goal would be to say that they want to lose that 15 pounds within the time frame of 3 months. The simple act of deciding on a deadline often instills a sense of urgency that can be a motivator to keep pushing forward.
Hopefully, by following these guidelines, you will be able to set goals that get results. I’d love to read about a few of your SMART goals in the comments below.