The answer is to set goals in a S.M.A.R.T way. If you’re thinking, “Yes, I’ve set goals but how do I actually put them into action?”, then this article is for you.
There’s a psychology behind the way we set goals and our chances of success. Studies have shown that writing down what we intend to do makes the task more tangible and more likely that we will reach the goal.
Some ways to do this include writing out the task and signing on the bottom, or creating an action plan if it’s a big goal using small steps that you can cross-off along the way. For example, writing down your first goal as “climb Mount Everest” might seem like a waste of time. And if you currently have to pause for a breath while carrying the shopping up a flight of stairs, seeing this goal might demotivate you.
If we break this down a little further, the first step on our path to the top of the world might be “During April, walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week”. This is much more attainable from a standing start and being able to tick this off your list will help you see how you’ve progressed and can be a good motivator to keep you going.
Astute readers will notice the difference in the goals listed above. The first one is the destination but along the way there are a series of steps to be taken to bring this goal to reality. The second goal uses the S.M.A.R.T process, which says that each of your goals should be:
Make sure your goals are clearly defined e.g. don’t just say you want to save more money this year, set an amount or an action, e.g. I want to save $50 a week or I’m going to eat out only once a week. You need to write goals that show you how they can be achieved.
Having measurable goals means you have a concrete set of criteria for you to check your progress against. A measurable goal should be able to answer questions such as how much? Or how many? How will I know when my goal has been accomplished?
It’s important to set goals that are attainable and achievable yet still challenging. There’s no point setting a goal that is below your standard performance and likewise, setting your sights too high can be a setup to failure and only leave you feeling disillusioned with yourself. A good question to ask yourself is: does the goal seem fair and reasonable for you to achieve within the time specified? If yes, how so?
Is your goal realistic and within your reach? Are you willing to commit to your goal? Almost certainly your goal is realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished.
Each goal needs to have a target date so you can set some priority to them outside of your usual everyday tasks. Think about when you can achieve the outcome you want – a month? 6 months? A year?
Using the S.M.A.R.T tool will help give you the focus and motivation to achieve your goals. It’s a guide to planning for goals that are well-defined and thought about, broken into quantifiable terms that can be actioned on. So what are you waiting for!
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Disclaimer: This post has been prepared for general information purposes only. It is not specific advice to any particular person. You should consult an authorised Align Financial adviser before making financial decisions. Align Financial | Financial Planner Northern Beaches | Servicing North Narrabeen, Narrabeen, Mona Vale, Elanora Heights, Newport, Avalon, Palm Beach | Enquire with us online.