There’s a healthy way of entering the goal-setting mindset that comes around the new year. Through the SMART goal-setting method, you can set yourself up for success in all your goals.
At the top of each new year, we tend to make resolutions. A new year signifies a new timeline for us—a new opportunity. It’s natural to feel inclined to make large resolutions and set goals around this time. As personal finance advocates, we’ve even encouraged you to set dinero goals by providing eight key steps to consider for your money goals this year.
But did you know that only roughly 4% of people who set new year’s goals actually keep them through the year? Out of all the people who excitedly set goals and intentions at the top of the year, only 4% actually fulfill them. Based on experience, the 94% who didn’t reach their goals will at some point or another probably feel disappointed in themselves. It’s natural to want to feel accomplished. It’s understandable to not want to feel like you failed on something.
The reality is that the 94% proably did not set realistic goals, aka SMART goals.
Why You Need To Set Goals With Your Money
When we talk about money, our minds heighten the internal guilt, as money is the number one cause of stress for 44% of Americans who responded in a 2018 survey. The reality is that money can create a deep stress in your life if gone unaddressed. Among first-generation wealth-builders, financial anxiety can run deep. While there is a lot of deep mindwork that needs to be done to fully unpack and unravel where this anxiety comes from, one thing you can do to alleviate this financial stress is by taking more control of your finances in a productive, efficient manner: you can set up new year’s dinero goals, while being mindful of yourself and your mental health.
And if COVID-19 has taught us one thing about our money, it’s that nothing is for certain.
The key to protecting your mental health when setting intentions is to set SMART goals
What Is A SMART Goal?
A SMART goal follows a certain technique. SMART is an acronym standing for:
If your goal does not answer each of these components, you are risking the success of your goal. Notice that to write a SMART goal, you need to get super specific. What’s typical for new year’s goals is to set broad goals; we’re not doing that here. We’re trying to make it as easy to accomplish your goals as it can be. We want to set you up for success.
Let’s break each letter, or step, down:
What exactly is it that you want to accomplish with your goal? This is the most basic, most foundational aspect of your goal. If you can’t sum it up in a concise manner, it’s not specific enough, meaning it is too broad.
What metrics will you use to determine whether or not you met your goal? This part is key not only because it encourages you to think about how you measure impact or success, but also because in quantifying our progress, we can then celebrate the small wins towards our even larger wins. Anyone on the podcast who has paid off five or six-figure debt is here to send one reminder: just eat it.
New Year’s goals tend to be ambitious. We’re excited. Let’s tune it back a little and, instead, set achievable goals. We should be able to see a road forward and towards our goals. Give yourself a reality check and be honest with yourself.
Why are we setting this goal? What in our current life does it relate to? Here, we need to be honest with why we are setting this goal. If we cannot identify a point of true relevance to our lives, maybe our goal was influenced by others externally. A goal that does not start with you will be significantly harder to carry through. Essentially, you want to ask: why does this matter to me right now?
At the top of 2022, we set an arbitrary timeframe to see them through. Our go-to timeframe at the top of the year is usually just: “by the end of this year.” Saying this, however, prevents us from actually progressing towards smaller check-in points and measuring impact.
Write A SMART Goal For Your Dinero
Breaking up goals into SMART chunks makes them seem doable. The road forward is painted, so you will know how to start and keep your eye on the prize (with the prize being whatever is the result). Here are some examples of what SMART goals can look like for your dinero:
- In 6 months, I will max out my 2022 Roth IRA by contributing $1,000/month, pulling 50% (or $500) from my full-time paycheck and the other half from my side hustle paycheck.
Here is how this is a SMART goal:
Specific: Maxing out my 2022 Roth IRA
Measurable: Whether or not I contribute $1,000/month and $6,000 by the end of June (6 months)
Achievable: I am bringing in about $4,200/month across both sets of paychecks.
Relevant: I aim to retire early and want to leverage my tax-advantaged accounts to get there.
Time-bound: Six months
Setting goals is important to getting things done and becoming the version of ourselves we can only dream about so far. This year more than ever, COVID-19 has also shown us that we should be setting money goals too. But to make sure we are not setting ourselves up with unrealistic expectations, we need to practice using the framework of a SMART goal.