Set SMART Goals

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Setting goals is one of the most important parts of your happiness journey for a reason. You can’t get where you want to go if you don’t have a map! (Or maybe you can, but it’ll be an accident.)

You need to break each of your overall dreams down into a series of smaller goals. Many of them will contain even smaller goals within them. This will allow you to know exactly where you’re headed and what steps you need to take next.

Each of your goals should employ the SMART framework. The acronym stands for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based” and should be the standard by which you judge all your goals. If one doesn’t fit the framework, you should revise it until it does.

Assume that one of your goals is to buy a house. This is a common goal. Does “Buy a house” fit the SMART criteria? Well, it’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Relevant, but is it time-based? No. So, you can revise it by changing it to “Buy a house within five years.” Now it’s a SMART goal!

It’s still a nebulous goal, though. What does that mean? Are you going to wait five years, then walk into a bank and walk out with a mortgage? No; there are many intermediate steps between here and there. So, you need to break the overarching goal of buying a house down into intermediate SMART goals.

How do you do that? List all the things you need to do before you can qualify for a mortgage. Let’s say you have medical debt, credit card debt, a car loan, and no savings for a down payment. Those are all things you’ll need to remedy before you can buy a house.

Your five-year SMART plan to buy a house could look something like this:

Year 1 -Save $1,000 emergency fund and pay off medical debt

Year 2 -Pay off credit card debt

Year 3 -Pay off the car loan and save $1,000 for a down payment

Year 4 -Save $4000 for a down payment

Year 5 -Save $5000 for a down payment and buy the house

Is each of these subgoals a SMART Goal? Yes. They’re Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. You either reach them or you don’t; there’s no in-between. They’re all measurable, relevant, and time-based. All must be accomplished before achieving your overall goal.

You can apply this framework to all your goals. A SMART goal is an achievable goal!

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