Setting goals is essential for achieving great things – it’s what keeps us going, gives us drive, and motivates us. Once your goals are clearly defined (and preferably written down), you can start moving forward with a clearer focus on what needs to be done. But it’s important that your goals aren’t vague – setting S.M.A.R.T goals is essential.
How to set S.M.A.R.T goals
Smart goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Try to be specific in your goal setting, and not vague. For example, instead of writing “I want to make money by the end of the year”, write down how much money you want to make, and specific steps you will take to actually achieve this.
BAD EXAMPLE: “I want to make money by the end of the year”.
GOOD EXAMPLE: “I want make $5k/month by the end of the year. I will apply for 5 freelancing jobs every day, I will hold 3 yard sales with friends, and I will start selling my unwanted clothes on ThredUp. ”
Make sure the goals you set are measurable, i.e. you are able to see if you’ve actually achieved them. This ties in with the first step of making your goals specific. “Making money” is not a measurable goal. “Making $5k/month by the end of the year” is measurable – you either did make $5k/month by the end of the year, or you didn’t.
It’s great to dream big, but it’s also important to be realistic when setting goals. You may have a goal to become a millionaire. If you currently have a net worth of $10k, setting a goal of being a millionaire in 3 months is probably not realistically achievable. Having a goal of increasing your net worth by $5k may be more realistic.
It’s important to choose goals that are relevant to you. Think about why it is you want to achieve the goal you’re setting, if it’s truly important to you, and if you will find it fulfilling. Imagine that 3 of your friends have recently taken up cycling. They seem to be having a great time, and you want to get fit, but you’ve always hated cycling and you don’t own (and can’t afford) a road bike. Would going and spending thousands of dollars on a road bike and joining your colleagues really be fulfilling to you? Or could you achieve your fitness goal in a way that’s more relevant to your current situation?
Once again, do not be vague here. “I want to make $5k” is too vague. When do you want to make $5k? Next March? This winter? Make certain to set a specific timeline for your goal. If you want to make an extra $5k, grab a pen and a notebook and start writing down the steps you’re going to take. Setting a timeline for achieving your goal makes it less likely to be thrown on the back burner for “some other time.”