Make Your Goals SMART-er
Now that I’ve wrapped up 2011, it’s time to set new resolutions for 2012. If the process is like past years, most of my resolutions were started and never finished. A couple of my goals were to save more money and at least take a small vacation. Last year, I started out with so much motivation that I just knew I would end the year with a bang!
However, here I sit with the same resolutions – no savings for a vacation – but high hopes that this year I can and will maintain my motivation for longer than a week. It’s not enough to just say “I want to save enough money to go on a nice vacation.” Instead, I recognize that I need to set a financial goal to reach my main goal – of going on vacation.
So, this year, I resolve to turn my resolutions into SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, and within a reasonable Time-frame. I wrote out a plan on how to reach my goal(s). After all, planning is also part of the goal-reaching process. A goal without a plan is only a daydream, at best, unless there is a road map to reach the goal. So, with that said, the first thing I did was find out how much it will cost to go on that long-awaited, relaxing vacation. It turns out that the total vacation package will cost $2,000. After preparing my budget, I found that I can save $200 a month, allowing me to take my vacation in October.
My goal reaches all of the SMART criteria:
- Specific and Measurable – My goal for 2012 is to take a long-awaited vacation at a cabin in the mountains and it will only cost $2000.
- Attainable, Results-Oriented, and within a Timeframe – if I cut back on dining out and utilize “free” entertainment, I can easily attain the goal in 10 months. The plan then becomes realistic.
My advice is that setting goals the SMART way can help you reach your goals, whether it’s a short-term goal of losing 15 pounds or a long-term one of saving enough money to start a business. The act of writing goals down forces you (and me) to focus on those goals in a SMART way. By using this methodology, we break a large goal (that often seems unattainable) into smaller, more manageable parts. So, although my vacation won’t be near a beach this year, I know that I will still be able to take one and not have to pay for it with credit cards! How SMART is that?