To Your Health
May, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 05)
The Smarter Approach to Achieving Your Goals
By David Kent
If you are anything like me, you have a to-do list of projects you are never quite able to finish - or sometimes even start. Perhaps some of these items have been on your list for months or even years, but a lack of time or other circumstance has prevented you from moving on them. Let's take a look at the SMARTER way to organize and complete those items on your to-do list without further delay.
To focus your efforts and begin moving in the right direction, you first need to be specific about each of your goals. Thinking about your goals is good; however, writing them down in specific detail is the only way to clearly define them and solidify them in your mind. When putting your goals to paper, make sure they are straightforward and free of ambiguity. For example, instead of: "I want to lose weight," try: "I will lose 10 pounds over the next 10 weeks." Instead of: "I want to save more money," try: "I will increase my savings by $2,500 over the next 12 months."
We've heard it said that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. Reviewing your goals and documenting or measuring your progress daily will help you to make the choices that continually point you in the right direction. For example, documenting your workouts and the foods and drinks that pass through your lips, as well as using the same scale to weigh yourself, are ways to measure your progress toward your weight-loss goal. You'll also confirm your measurable progress by noting how well your clothes fit, the numbers on the scale and how you feel about your accomplishments.
To measure your financial goals, you'll have to track your spending versus your income or find other measurable ways to track what factors can increase your ability to save money in the short and long term. Paying off debt, opening a savings or retirement account, or investing in tools and/or seminars that increase and improve your knowledge, thereby adding to your marketable skill set, are all effective methods of measuring your financial progress.
Is your goal realistically attainable? Using weight loss as the example again, if you are naturally stocky or big-boned, for example, setting a weight-loss goal that would be difficult for a supermodel to achieve isn't realistic and probably not attainable. In fact, setting unrealistic goals likely will result in burnout and failure. However, losing 10 pounds and improving your all-around level of fitness are definitely attainable goals. It's also important to identify realistic, attainable actions that you can take to move you toward your goal. For example:
- Problem: Sweets and snacks pose a weakness for me; I find it hard not to give in to temptation.
- Solution: I'll avoid those aisles at the grocery store so I won't be tempted to buy those foods.
- Problem: I tend to overeat when I dine out.
- Solution: Before my food is brought to the table, I'll ask the server to pack up half of my meal in a to-go container.
Financial goals can be attained easily by realizing that consistent efforts can produce big returns. For example, making or saving an additional $50 a week x 4 weeks = approximately $200 a month x 12 months = $2,400 a year. Another $200 a week x 50 working weeks a year = $10,000 additional in annual income.