One of the primary reasons people don’t stick to goals is that the goals are not appropriate or realistic. Often, when we decide to do something, we set lofty goals without defining specific milestones and eventually we give up because we get discouraged with our lack of progress towards the end result. We may not necessarily lack the discipline to achieve the goals; we merely start the wrong way. Without a method to measure progress, it becomes easy to get discouraged.

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For example, if you have ever tried to lose weight, many fitness professionals will tell you to stop obsessing over the scale. They tell you to focus on how you feel, your energy level, the way your clothes fit, and other “non-scale” wins. If you are able to see incremental progress in other areas of your health, you are more likely to stick with the plan even if the scale doesn’t move. Celebrate the small wins. The same is true with finance.

The key is to set SMART goals:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-bound

“Specific” answers the who, what, when, where, and why of the goal. The purpose of this is to create a crystal clear image of the actual goal.

“Measurable” helps you stay on track by creating clear milestones and defines how progress is tracked and achieved.

“Attainable” means that the goal is realistic. What’s the purpose of setting a goal that isn’t realistic? The key to setting an attainable goal is to set a goal that is challenging, but yet not unrealistic. “Stretch goals” are ok, but unattainable goals aren’t.

“Relevant goals” are appropriate to the actual situation. These help drive the overall goal forward. For this you may ask yourself, “Do we have the right resources?” “Is this the right time to pursue it?” “Does this support our overall purpose?”

Time-bound ensures that you actually have a time frame for completion. By understanding the time frame, you can avoid excuses, hold yourself more accountable, and most importantly, reduce the likelihood of procrastination.

Let’s look at an example to see how this works.

Vague – I’m going to pay off my credit card debt.

Specific – I’m going to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt.

Not Measurable – I’m going to make payments until the balance is gone.

Measurable – I’m going to pay $125 per month until the balance is gone

Not Attainable –I’m going to bring my lunch everyday, and not go out to eat so I can pay off my debt in a couple of months.

Attainable – I’m going to add an extra $35 over the minimum payment to reduce the time that it takes to pay off the debt and reduce the amount of interest charged. I’m going to do this by taking my lunch 1 week out of the month. This assumes a 5 day work week and $7 per day lunch.

Not Relevant – I’m going to become a hermit so I can funnel all of my money towards paying off my debt.

Relevant – I’m going to suggest to my friends that we have a rotating Sunday dinner our homes instead of going to a restaurant once a week.

Not Time-bound – I will pay off the credit card debt eventually.

Time-bound – I will be credit card debt free in less than 5 years.

Hopefully this provides more clarity on how to set goals. The key is to set SMART goals and to break the goals down into smaller, measurable components. This helps to provide the motivation needed to drive the goal to completion.

What goals will you set? Use the Intention Setting Worksheet (click the link to get your free download) to help you to identify your goals for the New Year!  Share your learning below in the comment section!

If you like this then, join the FNPhenomenal Community to learn how to “Live More. Spend Less” and be financially phenomenal.  Click here to join and begin 2015 strong!

Aisha Taylor is a #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle”, and the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal). FNPhenomenal helps women to break the vicious cycle of making money, but not keeping it. FNPhenomenal provides education about money management, empowers women to take control of their lives, develop a healthier relationship with money, and pursue being phenomenal.

Visit Aisha online at www.FNPhenomenal.com

Follow Aisha on Instagram/Twitter: @FNPhenomenal

Facebook: facebook.com/FNPhenomenal

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