Have you ever heard this common expression? “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.”
You might not have ever given that phrase much thought but if you have goals that you wish to achieve in your personal or professional life then you need to consider what strategies will help you be successful. A strategic plan is not only necessary to fulfill dreams but is also valuable in surviving the challenges of everyday life.
What is involved in good planning? How can you set the stage for being successful fulfilling your dreams?
Too often people fail to reach their goals because they never had a specific plan or a way to evaluate their progress. How often have you heard someone say ,“ I want to lose 10 pounds before my class reunion?” Or maybe you’ve heard someone say, “I need to save more money to make that trip to Europe this year.” All too often people have the dream of doing something but no plan as to how to make it happen.
There is a proven method to help turn dream stagnation into goal fulfillment. It’s known as setting SMART goals. SMART goals are goals which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed. SMART goals are written statements which not only guide your actions but also give you a way to evaluate your progress.
Here’s how SMART goals can be helpful in creating a savings plan. Let’s say that Susan wants to go to Europe within the next 6 months and needs $3,000 for the trip. What does Susan need to do to prepare? Let’s try to apply SMART planning to Susan’s situation. One easy way to start SMART planning to jot out every SMART goal in a notebook and note what action is needed and how it will be accomplished.
Susan’s goal might be to raise $3,000 to go to Europe. Now she needs to decide is this goal specific enough? It seems to be on the surface but will $3,000 cover the costs of tips and souvenirs? Maybe Susan will need to be more specific about her expenses in order to get a true estimation of her budget needs.
Let’s assume Susan has decided she needs $5,000 for her trip. She intends to earn the extra money by taking some babysitting jobs. Her goal is now more specific so she can take the next step which is to determine if her goal is achievable.
Let’s say Susan figures she’ll take 5 babysitting jobs a week to raise the money for her trip. If Susan is already working full-time and goes to the gym 3 times a week then she might find she needs to either adapt her current schedule or earn her trip money in a different way than babysitting.
The next question that Susan needs to ask herself is this : Is my goal realistic? While some nannies might earn $5,000 for babysitting services in just a few months, Susan needs to evaluate if it is really possible for her to earn this amount of money in just a short time. If her goal is unrealistic, then she needs to make an adjustment to her time-frame or determine another way in which to raise the money she needs.
The last factor in Susan’s goal setting is time. She needs to determine both how much time she can give to meeting her goal and then also how much time is needed to reach her goal. If Susan can take only 2 babysitting jobs a week and the jobs pay an average of $25 each. Then she will earn $200 a month. At $200 a month, she will need to work as a babysitter for at least two years in order to reach her goal. If Susan wants to go Europe sooner than this, then she can use SMART planning to re-configure her goals.
When setting out goals like Susan’s, keep in mind the SMART formula. Is this goal specific? Is it measurable? What will make it achievable? How realistic is my goal? Did I remember to set a time-frame for reaching my goal? By using SMART goal techniques, you’ll be setting up a road-map for goal success.