Goal Assessment (10-15 min)

There is a long-standing principle of making S.M.A.R.T goals.  This anacronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time bound.  This principle has stood the test of time because it works.  Unfortunately, many people fail to follow this principle and end up with vague wish lists that they never get around to obtaining because the lack of structure and intention allows other less relevant or helpful activities to take precedence.  Often, we allow external forces to control our day-to-day actions, becoming reactive.  Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals therefore allow us to take control of our future.  A description of each of these components is as follows:

Specific – Specific goals have a clear definition of accomplishment.  A vague goal of “become rich” leaves the end-point undefined and thus the finish line can continually change.  Vagueness also allows you to procrastinate.

Measurable – Goals must have specific metrics attached to them in order to track progress.  Tracking progress provides motivation and helps assess the effectiveness of your efforts.  You can increase your chances for success by sharing your goals with people who will hold you accountable in a positive and supporting way.    

Actionable – Goals need to be able to be broken down into smaller, more achievable components.  These goals should continue to be broken into smaller and smaller components until you have the skills and resources to confidently achieve them.  Repeated success builds confidence.

Relevant – The more directly your goal is related to your passion, the greater the benefit you will receive and the faster you will achieve your goal because your mind will be open to seeing opportunities that can generate opportunities or solve problems.

Time Bound – An end date is crucial for each goal because everything works backward from that date.  Interim tasks are scheduled based on their completion time relative to the preceding task.  Resources are collected and distributed to coincide with needs of upcoming tasks.

Some proponents of goal setting also recommend an additional two letters, making the anacronym S.M.A.R.T.E.R. The additional letters stand for Evaluate and Reward.

Evaluate – Progress toward your goals must be evaluated regularly to determine if changes need to be made in terms of resources or timing.  Typically, a weekly review of progress on tasks supporting milestones or goals will give you plenty of opportunity to make adjustments.  Don’t be surprised if you find that you fall behind or fail to meet a goal.  It is normal and even helpful to fail about 15% of the time if you are setting challenging but achievable goals.  More than that should flag adjustment.

Reward – Successful achievement of goals improves confidence, which is reinforced with a reward structure. The reward, however, should not counter the good habit or goal achievement and be sized appropriate to the goal.  Don’t go on a lavish spending spree to reward establishing an emergency fund.  Also, the reward should match your personality type and recharge your energy levels.  For example, introverts might reward themselves with time alone doing something personally satisfying not related to financial goals.