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Setting yourself up for a successful 2017 by setting goals the SMART way

As an aggressively type-A person, setting goals are one of my favorite things to do. In fact, one of the key reasons for my success is through setting goals. In fact, I set goals for New Year’s as well as monthly and weekly goals. Here are some tips on how you can set yourself up for a successful 2017 by setting goals the SMART way.

S: Specific. Clearly define your goals. I ask myself the five W’s: what (do I want to accomplish), who (is involved), why (do I want to accomplish this), which (requirements do I have for this goal), and when (what is the deadline). For me personally, I want to pay off all of my consumer debt before I get married so I can have a fresh start in my marriage.

M: Measurable. Determine how you will know when you have achieved your goals. Setting mini-deadlines are a perfect way to make sure you are on track to achieve a bigger goal. For example, one of my goals is to pay off all of my debt, so I have also set mini-goals of paying off each credit card, student loan, and car loan.

A: Action-oriented.  Determine how you will achieve your goal. In my example of paying off debt, I decided that I would look for other job opportunities that paid more, begin “side hustling” by making an income from my blog, and decrease living expenses by moving in with my partner.

R: Realistic. Be honest when setting your goals. Make sure your goal is something you can actually achieve. Nothing is more discouraging than setting a goal and realizing you can’t reach it. If you know you can achieve your goal, you will be determined to do just that. Knowing how you will reach your goals (in the action-oriented section above) will help you determine if it is a realistic goal. If it something you can’t control entirely on your own, such as getting a promotion at work, it may not be realistic, but setting a goal such as get the necessary education and experience you need to be considered for a promotion is.

T: Time-based. Like I mentioned above in the five W’s, set a deadline to achieve your goal. I have found that if I leave a goal open-ended, I am not as motivated to work towards it because I will do it “someday.” Let your “someday” be today. Also determine how often you will work on the task to accomplish this goal. For my goal of paying off debt, I make a “debt snowball” payment once each month.

I’ve also heard of SMARTER goals, which is exactly like SMART goals but with two extra letters– the “E” and “R” standing for evaluate and re-adjust. If you’re not continually measuring your progress on your goals, then it’s easy to quit. Once you evaluate your goals, if you determine something is not working, then re-adjust to make your goal achievable.

Another tip that I’ve found useful is to set positive goals instead of negative goals, such as “stop doing something.” Setting negative goals puts me in a bad mindset, but setting positive goals empowers me to achieve them.

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Emilie Burke

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