The SMART Way To Accomplishing Your Goals

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Now that the New Year is upon us, everyone has goals and New Year’s Resolutions that they have made. Some people want to get out of debt, and others want to exercise more and lose weight. No matter what your goals are, they will not be easily accomplished if you do not have a plan…

Now that the New Year is upon us, everyone has goals and New Year’s Resolutions that they have made. Some people want to get out of debt, and others want to exercise more and lose weight. No matter what your goals are, they will not be easily accomplished if you do not have a plan to stick with them. For decades, scholars and productivity researchers have been praising the SMART goal setting method. Robert Pagliarini even reminded readers in his book, “The Other 8 Hours”, that goals need to follow the SMART acronym. Goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely in order for you to have a chance in seeing them through.

Creating SMART Goals

Your Goals Have To Be Specific

Your goal needs to be as specific as possible. You should not have a goal or New Year’s Resolution to just “lose weight in 2011.” You should tell yourself that you are going to lose fifty pounds over the course of the next year or one pound a week and a set number of inches off your waist.

Your Goals Need To Be Measurable

You have to be able to know where you started, where you want to go in the end, and how you are doing along the way. So, for example, if you goal is to lose weight, it is easily measurable by getting on a scale in your bathroom every morning or night. You should not set a goal that is stated in a way that is immeasurable. For example, your goal should not be to find more happiness in your life. While that is an admirable goal, you need to quantify exactly what makes you happy and how to increase that metric.

Your Goals Must Be Attainable

I am a big fan a stretch goals. Goals need to be tough to reach, but they need to be reachable nevertheless. If a goal is totally unattainable, it will be easy for you to drop it without a second thought. I want to play professional baseball when I was a little kid, but my mother did not have the heart to tell me that it was unattainable since I could even hit another twelve year-old’s curveball.

Your Goals Have To Be Realistic

Writing a best-selling novel may not be very realistic if you have not been honing the craft of writing. If you want to keep your New Year’s Resolution or a goal, you have to be realistic. Are you going to wipe out $100,000 in credit card and other consumer debt in one year? Most likely not, and you need to be realistic so you do not get discouraged with your goals. Repaying $100,000 in debt is completely doable through programs like Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball, but it takes time.

And, Your Goals Should Be Timely

Timely, realistic, and attainable goals seem to go hand in hand almost. Your goals need to have a time frame for completion. If you want to lose weight or write the great American novel, you should have an end date in mind and preferably the shorter, the better. You should breakdown your goals into short-term, mid, and long range goals. This will help you focus your energy on the close targets, and your short-term goals can help provide you with baby steps that lead to your large long-term goal.

Like most members of the military, service men and women thrive on acronyms to help them remember ideas and concepts. Using the SMART acronym for goal setting can help you stick to your goals and even try to help you manage to buck the trend and keep your New Year’s Resolutions.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is a Major in the U.S. Army and a writer who focuses on personal finance, investing, and retirement. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and runs the site Money Q&A. His writing has been featured on sites such as The Motley Fool, Military.com, and many others. You can follow him on Twitter at @MoneyQandA.

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