Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said “a goal properly set is halfway reached.” Imagine two boats that leave the harbor – one enters a specific island destination into their GPS and the other sets out with no plan other than to “find a beach somewhere”. Which boat would you want to be on? Making a plan and “setting your destination” ahead of time is crucial to accomplishing your goals.
Often people who feel like they aren’t making progress on their goals don’t even realize the biggest hurdle they’re facing is that their goals are too vague. How many people make New Year’s resolutions on a whim and never write them down or set out a plan? That’s why only 8% are successful and 88% fail by their second month! The same is true for your financial goals. Clearly defining your goal, what success looks like and putting a plan in place before taking action is a big part of the process. How do you properly set a goal? We recommend using the SMART goal system (make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound).
Here’s how to get started:
Be Specific. The more clearly you can define your goal, the easier it will be to know when you have reached it. When deciding on your goal, make sure it is something that motivates you, something you really want.
Make it measurable. Use precise numbers, amounts, dates, etc so you can measure your progress along the way.
Make it achievable. You can dream big and have stretch goals, but make sure they are realistic and attainable. Don’t make them too easy either. Make sure your goal is a true win for you.
Be sure its relevant. Think about what you want to achieve in life, your career, etc. Keeping all of your goals aligned and relevant with your lifes vision will help you narrow your focus and get to your destination sooner.
Make it time bound. You can have short term goals or milestones that help you get to a longer term goal. Use the milestones and deadlines to mark progress. This will create urgency as you begin to near the finish line.
Once you finalize your goal(s) make sure to put them in writing and post it in a prominent place (computer, bathroom mirror, refrigerator, etc). This will help keep you motivated and remind you frequently what you’re working towards. Here is an example:
Vague Goal: I want to buy a boat.
SMART goal: I want to save $450 a month to buy a $15,000 fishing boat in three years. I have reviewed my expenses and will redirect money from my eating out and entertainment budget to a saving account. I will also work 5 hours a week tutoring for extra cash to achieve the necessary monthly savings.
Ok, now that you have a properly set goal, you’re half way there! Setting a destination (goal) doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the journey, it means you know what you’re working towards and can check your progress along the way. Get started today, celebrate your successes and see it through to the finish line.