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What are SMART Goals?

We all have things we want to accomplish in our lives. But have you ever pursued a goal that failed to reach? Maybe it was a New Year’s Resolution. By the time February rolled around, you are already way off course.

When it comes to goals, how do you help prevent failure? It starts with the type of goal you set. The type of goal will increase or decrease your likelihood of reaching that goal. Whether you are trying to pay off debt, lose weight, run a marathon, or achieve any other goal, a SMART goal can help you get there.

What is a SMART goal? SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.


Avoid vague goals like “pay down debt” or “lose weight” or “run more.” Instead, consider a goal like “Pay down $15,000 in debt” or “lose twenty pounds” or “run a full marathon.” A good goal must be specific.


A good goal should answer these questions, “How is my progress measured, and when will I know I have completed the goal?” The problem with “pay down debt” is that you have no clue whether you are on track and when you will reach your desired destination. Have you reached you goal after paying off $1 of your debt, or were you going after something more? A good goal is measurable.

A good goal should answer these questions, “How is my progress measured, and when will I know I have completed the goal?”


Look, you may desire to pay off $200,000 of debt this year, but your $50,000 salary may not make the goal feasible. Set a goal you can reach. This does not mean a goal should not stretch you, but there should be a reasonable shot at you achieving the goal. Unattainable goals lead to frustration, disappointment, and burnout. Instead of $200,000 this year, try $15,000. A good goal is attainable.


You should never find yourself thinking, “Who cares?” about your goal. Your goal should apply to a larger mission. “Pay down $15,000 of debt” gets you one step closer to living and giving generously. “Lose 20 pounds” increases the likelihood you will live to see your grandkids. A good goal is relevant.


Don’t leave your goal open-ended. Identifying completion dates will keep you accountable and motivated. When do you need to have $15,000 of debt paid off? Is it in six months? Is it in a year? Set your date. Good goals are time-bound.

As you consider what you want to accomplish, increase the likelihood of reaching your desired destination by setting SMART goals.


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