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This is your year! When it comes to setting smart goals for the new year, most of us have the best intentions. You’re finally going to take control of your money. Get fit. Start a new hobby.
But here’s the thing. 88% of us won’t. (That stat is 100% made up. But it’s got to be close!) Setting goals for yourself is absolutely the right thing to do, but good intentions change nothing. You can make resolutions all you want—but a resolution without a plan is just wishful thinking. So, how can you stick with your goals throughout the year?
Make SMART goals.
What Are SMART Goals?
Creating SMART goals give you direction. They make it easy to see if you’re getting closer to your desired objective or still treading water. There are five building blocks to reaching your goals:
What do you want to achieve? Get down to the nitty-gritty with it. Just saying you want to lose weight won’t cut it. Instead try, “I’d like to drop 20 pounds and be able to do at least 20 sit-ups in a row without passing out.” Determine any roadblocks that could keep you from reaching your goal and make a plan to get around them.
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Give yourself daily, weekly and monthly steps. If you know your ultimate goal is to pay off $24,000 of debt in the next year, that means you have to pay $2,000 a month to reach that goal (or about $460 a week). Break your goal into doable “chunks.” Focus on those. Accomplish one, then head on to the next one.
Is your goal realistic? Do you have the ability to do it? What about the skills or tools you need to reach it? If not, no shame. Just change your goal to something you can accomplish. You don’t want easy-to-reach goals though. Stretch yourself! But don’t chase after something that will wind up discouraging you.
Does the goal fit with the overall plan for yourself? If your goal is to learn the art of origami and you have room for a new hobby, great! But if you have plenty of hobbies, consider spending that energy elsewhere. And don’t forget to figure out what your “why” is. Something like, “I want to go on dates with my wife twice a month to invest in and strengthen our relationship.” Why you want to do something is powerful.
Set a time limit—because you need a finish line. Take that goal of yours, create a plan, and break it all the way down to daily activities. Then give yourself a deadline. “I’d like to lose 20 pounds by December 31.” Use a tool like the Business Boutique 2019 Goal Planner to help you organize your thoughts and attack your plan. Calculate things like how many times you need to work out each week and daily calorie intake.
Make Sure Your SMART Goals Are Your SMART Goals
Want to fail at goal setting? Try to accomplish someone else’s goals for you. Your mom may want you to take classes and switch careers. It won’t happen unless it’s your desire too. Why? Because striving to win isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s tough. And you won’t have the drive to stick with it if you’re working toward a goal you’re not passionate about.
Likewise, just because your spouse or dad wants you to get out of debt doesn’t mean you will. You have to want it too. The goals you set must be your goals. When push comes to shove, you’re the one who has to fight to make them a reality.
Write Out Your SMART Goals
Something special happens when you write down specific goals. Get them down on paper along with all the steps it’ll take for you to get there. Our Goal Tracker Worksheet is a handy tool for this. Seeing your goals on paper will help you hold yourself accountable and track your progress.
Seven Areas of Life for SMART Goals
We recommend you set goals for these seven significant areas of life:
- Financial Goals: Start saving for retirement, get out of debt, or implement a monthly zero-based budget.
- Spiritual Goals: Pick up a new devotional, start a daily journal, or plug in to a group at your church.
- Fitness Goals: Hit the gym more often, take the stairs, and remember to eat your veggies.
- Educational Goals: Go back to finish your degree, get your MBA, or read a good book every month.
- Family Goals: Plan one-on-one dates with your kids, have a standing date night with your spouse, or make it a point to call your mom and dad on Sunday nights.
- Career Goals: Work toward a promotion or raise, learn something new about your line of work, or polish up and send out resumes if you’re looking for a new career path.
- Social Goals: Say yes when someone invites you out to lunch or a social gathering (or for some of us) say no more often.
Don’t get discouraged if you get off track. Life happens. We all hit speedbumps and roadblocks from time to time. That’s okay! As long as you stay focused on the end goal and keep taking small steps toward achieving it, you’ll be on your way to making a big life change.
A strong first step toward reaching your financial goals would be Financial Peace University. It’s the proven plan that has helped more than 5 million people dump debt and start building wealth. And if you’re trying to figure out how long it will take you to become debt-free, our Debt Calculator will help.