It’s that time of year again. A fresh beginning. A new year to make everything right. That time of year where everyone makes a resolution to do better this time. When we wake up on January 1st, we have the best of intentions. Yes, this year is going to be the year.
According to one statistic I’ve read, only 8% of people keep their resolutions! That means 92% of people fail to keep those well-intentioned goals. 80% of those who make a resolution will give up by January 20th! Ugh. Those are some gnarly statistics to be up against.
Do you want to be successful with your new years resolution or other goals? Well, it’s not as hard as it may seem. With a little know how, some organization & motivation, you can keep those goals and achieve what you set out to do. Remember one thing – change can be hard. Even positive change is difficult to endure sometimes. There WILL be slip ups and goofs. There WILL be times of low motivation and decreased will power. Those things are inevitable. It’s what you do afterward that really matters. It’s how you move forward from those not-so-shining moments that counts.
So, how does one create manageable, achievable goals?
Make them SMART
This is a method of goal setting that can help you create goals that are manageable and doable. This method will force you to make the goals realistic. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the SMART method.
By the time your goal is set, you want to have answered the who, what, when, where, why and how of your goal. Avoid vague language that is open to interpretation. If a perfect stranger looked at your goal, will they know exactly what you’re setting out to do? Will they have a good idea of what it is you’re doing?
How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Will you know when you’re done? What will tell you that you’re done? How will you know if you’re on the right track or you’ve fallen off course? Make sure there is some form of measurement in the goal.
Is this even realistic? Is this a goal you honestly believe you can complete? Make sure from the get-go that your goal is something that can actually happen. If you set goals too lofty then you’re setting yourself up to fail. Remember, baby steps are often the way to big achievements.
Is this a goal that fits into your life now or that can fit into your life in the future? Is this something that makes sense to do? You want to keep your goals in line with the rest of your life, otherwise you’ll most likely fall of course.
What is your deadline? When do you expect to realistically achieve this goal? Give yourself a deadline to meet, otherwise you may never get around to actually doing it.
What does a SMART Goal look like?
Here’s an example of what a SMART goal might look like.
First, you want to state your problem specifically and WHY it’s a problem. The addition of the why can help keep you motivated as it will remind you why you wanted to meet this goal in the first place.
Problem: I have $5,000 in credit card debt & the payments keep me from saving for emergencies.
Goal: I will pay off my $5,000 credit card debt by January 2014.
At its basic level, that is a SMART goal. It’s Specific (pay off $5,000 credit card debt), Measurable (once $5,000 is paid, goal is met), Attainable (assuming numbers have been crunched), Relevant (I want to save for emergencies, so paying off the debt makes sense right now) & Time-bound (pay it off by Jan. 2014).
This large goal might seem a little overwhelming and a little vague. We can always tack on a few little SMART goals to take ‘bite sized’ chunks out of the goal and to keep us motivated. Doing this will make you really think about the smaller steps involved and give you a better idea of progress along the way, especially since the goal won’t be met for 1 year.
Let’s break it down even more..
Goal: I will pay off $5,000 credit card debt by January 2014.
1) I will pay $450 every month toward my credit card in order to pay it off by January 1, 2014.
a. I will stop buying coffee out to save an extra $20 per month and will apply that $20 to my credit card payment every month.
b. I will only eat out 1 time per week to save $30 per week to apply toward my credit card payment monthly.
c. I will cancel my gym membership and apply the extra $50 per month toward my credit card payment monthly.
2) I will check my progress toward my goal on the 30th of every month and adjust as needed.
Do you get the point? Breaking that large goal into smaller increments and specific action steps can help you be even more specific about your intentions and give you information along the way as to whether you’re on the right track to meet your goal in the time allotted. If you’ve fallen off course, you can make adjustments as you move forward.
Try not to take on too many goals at one time. It can be very difficult to change everything at once. In fact, studies have shown that the rate of success is higher when we focus on one major life change at a time. For example, if you want to lose weight, focus on that goal first and give yourself time before you try to tackle all your money woes.
It’s much easier to gain momentum on one problem and goal and add-on to that as you feel more confident. I’m sure we can all relate – we want to get our finances under control, eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, get a better job, make more money, find new hobbies…There are plenty of changes we probably all want to tackle, but taking on too many at once might lead to failing at all of them. Try to pick one problem and goal and go from there.
Happy Goal Setting!
Have you used the SMART method for setting goals before? Did you find it helpful? What are your biggest goals for 2013?