Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Price, observed that “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” And yet many of us move through life without a plan or even a goal. When we do this, the outcome is unpredictable. Think of it like taking a road trip without a destination in mind (the goal) or without a map (the plan). Sure, we’ll get somewhere, but is it a place we really wanted to reach? Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, used to encourage people to write their own obituary. Sound a little weird? Maybe, but it really clarified life goals and gave you time to achieve them. If you want your obituary to talk about the wonderful volunteer work you did, it’s important to be doing such work.
Now financial results are probably not something that most people want in their obituary, but they can enable some of the things you may want mentioned — sending your kids to college, contributing to your favorite charity, traveling all over the world and so on. As part of the Guidepost Financial Planning process, we use a tool called SMART. You can see one of the related worksheets on our website. SMART is a planning acronym which means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Let’s take a brief look at each of aspect of SMART goal setting.
Specific. Your SMART goal should be a clear statement of what you want. For example, a general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week.”
Measureable. There is an old saying that says “what gets measured gets done.” Making your goal measurable helps you see your progress, recognize if you are moving in the right direction and see how far you still need to go.
Attainable. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Realistic. To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Another way to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.
Timely. A goal should have a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs., when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you establish a deadline, like “by May 1st,” then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
It’s often helpful to have someone who can act as a sounding board when setting your goals. We have been exposed to many financial goals and can help you apply the SMART process to your own. Please visit our website or give us a call at 970.419.8212 so that we can discuss your financial goals in a no-charge, no-obligation initial meeting.
This article is for informational purposes only. This website does not provide tax or investment advice, nor is it an offer or solicitation of any kind to buy or sell any investment products. Please consult your tax or investment advisor for specific advice.