Happy New Year!

March 13, 2016

It is that time again!  

Time for fresh starts, moving forward and making changes.  I have never been big on a long list of goals for the new year, but I do love to make lists.  I find them very satisfying.  I like to write them out, add to and change them and then cross everything off.  Repeat.  

Making goals can be helpful in pushing you to try and figure out what is important to you.  There are many, many reasons to live for the here and now and to appreciate every moment of each day.  However, there is also good in looking forward to things that you wish to change or accomplish in the upcoming week, month, year or even things that will affect the path of your life. 

The definition of goal setting is the process of identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and time frames. For example, when you decide on a financial change to save more money and then set a certain amount to save each month, this is an example of goal setting.

In order to reach a specific goal (I mean really achieve it), you need to write it down and assess it every day, week or month depending on what your goal is and the timeframe you wish to reach it. This is where it is handy to follow S.M.A.R.T. goal setting; it’s an acronym for:

• Specific
• Measurable
• Achievable
• Relevant
• Timely

Specific
What exactly do you want to achieve? Do you want to go back to school? Spend more time with your family?  Implement more ways to live wisely? The more specific your description, the better your odds of getting what you want. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to drop 25 pounds by June because I am going to Hawaii."

Measurable
Measurable goals means that in your mind you will see, hear and feel what it is like to reach your goal. You will need to break your goal down into measurable steps, as well as evidence that the goal has been reached. Being happier is not enough evidence; waking up rested and cheerful, being able to get through the afternoon without wanting a nap and maintaining your concentration for the whole day is!
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining exactly what it is you want as well. Spelling out physical manifestations of your goal makes it clearer, and easier to reach.

Achievable
Is your goal attainable? Is it really something that you want?  Are you willing to sacrifice for it, or, even better, you have such a passion for it that it feels like something you MUST do.  Take some time and weigh the effort, time and costs your goal will take against the obligations and priorities you have in life.
If you don’t have time, money or a talent for what you want to achieve, then you must look at how you can achieve that goal by changing the other factors.  Call in some resources, read up on "how to" guides, join a networking group.  There are many ways you can make it happen by planning smartly and working towards it!

Relevant
Your goal or goals must matter to you. Does it line up with your long term objectives or will it take you off track to what your main goal is and cause you to lose focus on what really matters?
The main questions again are: Why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this specific goal really help me achieve that?
These three questions are very important and you should come back to them over and over again. 

Timely
This is huge, time is money!  Make a plan of the steps you are doing to reach your goals. Deadlines help people take action. It is important to create deadlines for each of your goals. Assign a specific day of the month and maybe even a time of the day to have it done by. Block out time each day or each week to productively work towards your goal.  Whatever they may be. Be sure to keep the timeline realistic. If you want to start earning an additional $5,000 per month, it may not be realistic to do that in a couple weeks. Keep the timeline realistic. It increases your chances of reaching your goals. 

Start setting your S.M.A.R.T. goals now with this handy little worksheet that you can download by clicking HERE. Be sure to share in the comments below what you are going to start working on or what goal you have achieved by writing it down and following a system.

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