SMARTER Goals Get Results
You have probably heard about making SMART goals. I hear them all the time around my office. We talk about SMART goals for career planning, annual planning, project planning, basically everything planning (SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, & Time-Bound.) It’s very common and said almost sarcastically around here because we all know it and it’s a goofy acronym. Unfortunately, it lacks what is so critical when it comes to accomplishing those goals, you need SMARTER goals.
Create SMARTER Goals
It’s no secret that I love setting goals. I have already written a few times about my own goals and the general process to making them easier to accomplish. Setting SMARTER Goals brings everything full circle. Developing your goals in this way clears your thinking and helps you take a streamlined and thoughtful approach to completing them.
What Are SMARTER Goals?
S – Specific
The goal needs to be very clear and defined. A bad goal would be “I want to save money.” A better goal would be “I want to save $1,000,000.” Finally, a SMARTER goal would be “I want to save $1,000,000 in 4,301 days.” The more defined and measurable your goal, the better.
The reason I love a detailed and specific goal is because it allows it to be broken down further. I already wrote about why breaking down your goals helps you in the long game. I believe that accomplishing smaller goals that lead to your major goal are incredibly important in keeping you positive and motivated to continue moving forward. You can’t make smaller goals that are accomplished along the journey without making your overall goal specific, detailed and measurable.
M – Meaningful
The traditional SMART goal acronym has this M as “measurable”. I believe that it is too redundant. You create a measurable goal by being specific and detailed. One crucial omission from the traditional SMART goal is that it isn’t personal or meaningful to you. If you create a goal that really isn’t meaningful, what is going to stop you from saying “Who cares?” and giving up on your goal.
To make your goals meaningful, you make sure they align with your personal values or your life purpose. In doing so, you will make achieving those goals (and the stepping stones along the way) more fulfilling to you. My goal of $1,000,000 by 2030 is meaningful to me because when I hit that goal, I know I will have achieved a life goal of being able to provide for my family until the day I die, it is a more profound reason to achieve the goal. I explained why $1,000,000 by 2030 works in this post.
A – Attainable
Attainability matters for your overall goal and the smaller goals that you set. If you set goals that you truly have no way of accomplishing, you are going to harm your self-esteem and motivation to keep moving forward. I have been guilty of setting goals that I couldn’t achieve like “lose 20 pounds in a month”. To achieve a goal like that, I would need to exercise more often and vigorously than I have in my life. In addition to that, I would need to cut my calorie intake to levels that would not be able to support the exercise required. I would be left exhausted after a few days, there wouldn’t be any way for me to keep it up for an entire month. I would often end the month in worse shape than I started, the goal all but forgotten as a shameful memory.
Due diligence should go into finding out if your goal is actually attainable. It wasn’t an accident that our goal was exactly $1,000,000 by 2030. I did a lot of research and calculating to get to that amount and that year. An unattainable goal for us would have been $1,000,000 by 2020. Certainly, I would much rather have that money in our retirement account in 2 years instead of 12. But, it would not have made sense because it would require us to save an additional $400,000 this year and next year. Making sure your goal is attainable will shield you from failure and help keep you positive as you push towards your desired result.
R – Relevant
To make a goal relevant, it needs to align with who you are and what you enjoy doing. If you create a goal that requires you to do something you hate, even if the outcome is positive, you will (probably) fail. If you can find joy in the journey towards your goal, you will have a wonderful positive feedback loop that will keep you motivated to trudge on when it gets tough. I enjoy finances and saving money, setting a goal that requires me to stay on top of finances and read more about finances is personally rewarding to me. You need to understand who you are and what you want. You get joy and happiness during the process of completing the goal instead of happiness once the goal is completed.
T – Time-Bound
You need to set a clear end to when the goal should be completed. It helps your goals be measurable and makes it easier to break your goals down even further. With set amounts of time, you can stay consistently motivated to complete your goal. You become more accountable to yourself, and someone else can also hold you accountable. Without a definitive goal date, you can always put something off until tomorrow. Without making your goals time-bound, you are unlikely to see meaningful progress for the long-term.
E – Evaluated
Evaluating your goals is the first step in making them truly SMARTER, and sets them apart from others. Evaluating happens continuously after the goal has been set. By evaluating your goals regularly, you will stay motivated. I evaluate my progress towards my $1,000,000 goal with my monthly net-worth updates. I get a lot of motivation just in the process of running the numbers and writing those posts. It would be too easy for me to forget about a goal that is 4300 days away if I wasn’t regularly and habitually evaluating my goal (and step goals.)
Let’s face it, if we suffer a market correction that lasts several years, I am unlikely to hit $1,000,000 by 2030. If an event like that comes up, I will notice it while evaluating my progress and I can re-adjust my expectations. It doesn’t mean I have failed at my goal, it just means that the goal became unattainable and needs to be adjusted. Maybe I add a few years to 2030 or lower my goal amount. Or maybe I just adjust my strategy and increase the amount of money that I am saving. All things that are made possible by regularly evaluating goal progress.
R – Recorded
The last step in creating SMARTER goals is to record them! You are more likely to complete the goals that you plan out and write down (hence my blog!) Your goals will never feel more real to you until you start writing them down. It helps keep you accountable to yourself and makes it easier to share your goal with someone else (maybe an accountability buddy.) This is also about tracking progress. By keeping up and recording your progress, you are more likely to stay motivated and positive about achieving your big goal.
I owe the progress we’ve made since 2016 (tripling our net worth) to creating a SMARTER goal. And the SMARTER goal is the key to reach $1,000,000 in just 4,301 days.
PS – If you want to start your own blog to record your goals and the progress towards completing them (like I am doing), you can easily create your own blog using Site Ground and WordPress.