I will buy a house in two years and have $10,000 for a down payment. I take my kids camping at least three times before it starts to get cold at the end of August. I will potty train my son by his 3rd birthday in September. I will pay an extra $50 per month toward my debt so I can be completely out of debt by January of 2014. I will earn my college degree by attending college for the next four years. When most people are asked what goals they have, a lot of people will not be able to think of something off the top of their head.
If they have any goals in mind it is likely that they have had those goals for a while or at least thought about them in depth at some point. However, the majority of goals that people set for themselves are either to broad or just unrealistic overall. For example, if someone says that their goal is to lose 100lbs in a month obviously that is unachievable and extremely dangerous. When I look at the goals that I chose to list above, I understand what the goal is and have the overall concept of what I want to achieve with that goal. However, after putting my goals in the smart goal format I can see a big difference in what they mean to me.
The smart goal format helps narrow down the overall purpose that I am trying to achieve. For example, the first goal that I put on my original list is buy a house. Now if I were to put that in a back of my mind and say that is a goal that I want to achieve in the future it could become a lost cause. By using the smart goal format I have narrowed the goal from an unlimited amount of time to two years and have set a specific amount to save up to in order to make my mortgage payments lower than they would be with no down payment and therefore easier to choose where I want to live.
When I look at the second goal that I listed I see that it is another open ended goal. When I reformatted the goal I managed to narrow it down to how many times I want to take them camping before August. When I look at my goal to potty train my son, I had no time frame put so it could potentially be something that gets pushed aside. By setting a day that I want to potty train him by I can develop a step by step process to reach that goal. My fourth goal to alleviate my debt was forced to be made more specific using the smart goal format as well.
I had to calculate my total debt and how much I would have to pay toward it monthly to determine what time frame would be realistic. Lastly, to earn my college degree could take a lifetime if that is what I wanted. Many people start college and end up having to take breaks and if this type of situation comes up I can re-evaluate the smart goal as needed. Overall, the smart goal format helped me in thinking more in depth about what I really want out of my goals. By figuring out what I really want and evaluating each goal individually and critically I was able to come up with a deadline that fit each goal properly and gave me some room.
By choosing a specific date for any goal, we are able to determine what tasks must be done to achieve that goal. These tasks can either be written into your overall goal or you can make each task a sub-goal and have it to look at your progress on the goal as time goes on. By listing what tasks need to be achieved it shows that you are making progress on your overall goals which comes in handy especially when you start to feel discouraged which will usually happen at one point or another.