Getting SMART About What You Want: Tips on Setting Goals
Lots of people want financial independence. Far fewer people achieve it. Why is that?
Wanting something isn’t enough.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
You’ve got to develop a goal and not just any goal, but a SMART goal. This goal should be
A Specific goal helps you focus and serves as motivation. If you know exactly what you want, you have a better chance of getting it.
A Measurable goal helps you monitor your progress. You’ll know exactly what you need, and as you progress, how much further you have to go before you get there.
An Achievable goal is critical. Be realistic. It’s great to have dreams — in fact, dream big — but your dreams should inspire goals that you know you can achieve. Even if they’ll require hard work, they’re still reachable. It’s important to not set yourself up for failure.
A Relevant goal is one that has meaning and importance to you.
A Timebound goal has a set time for achievement. It’s not an open-ended, “someday” goal, but it lets you know where your finish line is.
A SMART goal is a key to developing actionable steps that will show you the way, but you’ll also need behaviors that support you in taking those steps.
It’s Easier to Build Good Habits Than to Break Bad Ones
Good spending habits are a cornerstone of good financial health.
For many people, that’s easier said than done. Some people just seem to be born natural savers, and some are natural spenders. Are the natural spenders doomed? Will they always be in debt? Or do they have to go through life being miserable as they try to deny their true nature? No!
We all have natural talents, things that seem to come easy to us. Everything else we can learn.
“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” Brian Tracy
Maybe you weren’t born naturally musical but learned to play the guitar, and now you do it very well. It seemed hard at first but was important to you, so you kept at it. You built good habits, like practicing regularly. Instead of watching Netflix all weekend, you took some time out to build your skills. Initially, you had to think hard about where to place your fingers, but after time, the movements became automatic. Your muscles built the memory.
It’s the same with money management and financial literacy. You can build good habits even if there are times you’d rather do something else. You can build good habits because you know financial responsibility is important.
YOU CAN BUILD GOOD HABITS.
Just like with learning a musical instrument, the good habits become reinforcing. What seems really hard becomes second nature. The things that seemed important before, like hanging out watching tv or buying that fancy new phone as soon as it came out, aren’t hard to let pass because what you are doing instead feels so good. Having savings in the bank. Not being in debt.
“It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.” — Charles Jaffe
Learning to set goals and build good habits can seem overwhelming, but the skills that you’ll develop in learning to do these things will set the groundwork that allows you to achieve great things! They’re the first steps in financial literacy, but will be useful in all that you do.
Setting goals and building good habits are the first things I cover in the initial module of my course, Wealth Building Academy for Teens. In Responsible Spending Habits, I teach you how goals affect your spending habits, and how spending habits affect your financial health.
I hope you’ll join me, and get started on a journey toward strong money management skills!