SMART Goals Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams
Think about something that you want to accomplish in the future, like paying off credit card debt or student loans. Have you set a goal that will help you get there, or is it just something that you hope will happen? There is nothing wrong with hoping, as long as it is not your final step. A hope can be vague and open-ended, but a goal is what will guide you in achieving your desired outcome.
How to Create SMART Goals
How can you turn your hopes into goals? By thinking SMART! SMART is an acronym that can help you remember the components of an effective goal. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time- bound. Let’s look at an example.
Some people tell me, “I want to live debt free!” That’s great, but that is not a very specific goal. In order to fix your goal, you should look at the amount of debt that you have. Let’s say you have $10,000 in credit card debt. Instead of simply wanting to live debt-free, you can say that you want to pay off your $10,000 credit card debt. That is a specific goal. Now how can you achieve it?
“I will pay off some of my credit card debt each month until I am no longer in debt.” Do you see the problem with that plan? It is not measurable. Paying “some” money toward a credit card does less to hold you accountable than if you say, “I will pay $500 per month toward my credit card debt.” $500 per month is measurable, but does it meet the next requirement?
Being able to pay $500 per month toward your credit card debt is great, but make sure that this goal is achievable. Take into account your income as well as your other expenses. If $500 per month interferes with your ability to pay rent or your electricity bill, you may need to adjust your goal amount to something more feasible. You should also be realistic in your time frame expectations. For example, “I want to pay off my $10,000 credit card debt in three months” might be too difficult a goal to achieve.
Make sure that the goal is relevant to you and your lifestyle. If paying off your credit card is not important to you, you will probably not make this goal a priority, which sets you up for not meeting the goal.
You can determine how long it will take to pay off your debt by dividing how much you owe by how much you will pay each month. How long will it take you to accomplish the goal of paying off $10,000 in credit card debt? If you pay $500 per month, it will take 20 months to completely pay off $10,000 of credit card debt. ($10,000/$500 = 20 months.) It is important for goals to have a time frame or deadline to keep you accountable and on track. Remember, the target time frame should be achievable.
Setting SMART goals is a good method for achieving whatever your goal may be. Remember to always make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This will help make your hopes into goals, and your goals into reality!
With hard work and commitment, you can achieve financial freedom!
Elaine Harrison is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and Financial Fitness Coach®. Elaine has a fierce passion for helping others with their finances, especially as it relates to living debt-free. After traveling the world as a military spouse, Elaine and her husband have settled in their home state of Louisiana. When not working, Elaine enjoys reading, crafting, and admiring nature’s beauty.