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Goal Setting 101: How to turn a NEW YEARS RESOLUTION into a GOAL

Hi friends! Last week, I posted a little bit about goal-setting, and how important it is to have a goal instead of a boring New Years Resolution (NYR). Today, I am going to take that lesson a step further. We are going to do an extreme makeover: Goal Edition!

And by that I mean, we are going to transform a boring, crusty NYR into a wonderful SMARTER goal using Michael Hyatt’s SMARTER goal framework (as described in one of his books, “Your Best Year Ever”). I am going to do this by showing you how I turned one of my real-life NYRs into a SMARTER goal that I plan to achieve in 2020!

Step One: Start with Your New Year’s Resolution

Start with the vague idea that you had about making your life better in the upcoming year.

NYR: Save Money.

Can you appreciate how vague that notion is? Looking at that, I have so many questions. How much money? By when? How much per month? Why? With a NYR like that, I have no idea how to get started or when I will have enough money saved to feel like I have reached my goal. It is a plan that is destined to fail.

Step Two: Get Specific and Measurable

This step is probably the hardest, and the most important. You need to get specific on your WHAT and your WHY.

First, I start by brainstorming WHY I want to save money. WHAT could I do if I had all of the money that I wanted? You may have to do some research on this, or even call in an expert or two to help you gain clarity on how to get from point A to point B.

For my example, I want to save money because I want to own my own farm. To find out how to make this goal more specific, I researched what farms in my area are selling for and contacted my realtor about a minimum down payment needed to secure a loan. That lead me to the following number:

Specific and Measurable GOAL: Save $10,000 for a down payment on a mini farm and house.

Now, that goal is much better. Really, we could stop there and I wound have a small chance of making it happen since I now have clarity on exactly what I want to do and how much I need. However, it could be much better!

Step THREE: Add a deadline and a Time-Trigger

The T in SMARTER goals stands for time-keyed. I am going out of order here, but there is a method to the madness. I think that, before you go any further, you should think about your WHEN. This is important because it will help you come up with a time-table for how to complete your goal, which- especially if it involves money- may require some math to figure out if it is realistic.

What is the difference between a deadline and a time trigger? A deadline is WHEN you want your goal to be 100% completed. A time-trigger helps you break down your goal into steps based on increments of time.

For my goal, I want to have the money saved in ONE YEAR (at most). I will do this by taking part of my paycheck out (bi-weekly) and putting it in my savings account. The time-trigger isn’t listed below, but comes in later during step four.

Timed GOAL: Save $10,000 for a downpayment on a mini-farm and house before 12/1/2010.

Step FOUR: Add An Action Item

The A in the SMARTER goal framework is actionable. At first glance, you can look at the goal I made and see that “SAVE” is a verb, and so technically that goal is already actionable. But I want to make the action item even better- I want to clarify that goal so that it tells me HOW when I first read it.

Actionable Goal: Save $10,000 for a down payment on a mini farm and house before 12/1/2020 BY transferring $420 from checking to savings every pay period.

Now, that is more like it! You are almost finished with having an excellent goal. The next few letters in the word SMARTER help you to evaluate if this goal is right for your at this current time in your life, or if there is anything else you need to add to make it PERFECT.

Step FIVE: Go through the RER checklist.

You’ve already done the S (specific), M (measurable), A (actionable), and T (time-keyed), but we skipped the R and the ER. Go through this checklist to make sure that your goal doesn’t need any final tweaking.


Does this goal make you a little uncomfortable? GOOD! Progress begins outside of your comfort zone. Personally, I am a little nervous when I think about the extra $420 a month I am going to have to put in savings to make my dream of owning my mini-farm a reality. But, I have faith that if I can keep focused, my family and I will make it happen! This goal would NOT be risky if I lowered the amount or extended my time-table so that I had longer to work with.

If you feel that your goal isn’t challenging enough, fix it! You are actually more likely to complete your goal if you perceive it as challenging, and think how excited you will be when you finally complete it!

E: Exciting

Is your goal exciting? Do you really want to achieve your goal, or did you put it on your list because it is something that someone else- society, your parents, your spouse- thinks that you should do?

If you are not truly motivated to achieve your goal, you are not going to make it happen- especially if you’ve followed the guidelines so far and the goal is going to be quite challenging. Motivation is a very powerful thing, and lack of motivation can kill a goal dead.

If the actual goal is not exciting in and of itself (who thinks that saving money is exciting…yawn!), think about your WHY and if the WHY behind your goal is exciting. You want to start working out, but think that working out is boring? Think about how exciting it will be to shop for new clothes or have a new sense of confidence when at the pool in the summer. My goal of saving money is NOT exciting to me (I am a natural spender) but the idea of having my own farm, where I can have my own horses in my backyard, grow my own food, and do my own hunting is life-giving for me.

R: Relevant

This R could also stand for “realistic” or “reality check.” It is not here to make you doubt your dreams or to tell you that your dreams or too big- in fact, I encourage you to dream big and reach for the stars! However, you need to think about if your goal is relevant for the stage of life that you are in, and if it is possible with your other goals and commitments that you have going on.

For example, if you have a large amount of debts that need to be paid off and a poor credit score, maybe a large savings goal isn’t the right move right now. Or, if you have three small children, you probably shouldn’t make a goal to travel to a new state every weekend. Those are all great ideas- but just aren’t applicable to where you are in life right now.

If your goal isn’t relevant to your life, it is not going to get done and it will be very frustrating for you. Go back to the goal and see if there is a way you can change it so that it is more relevant and doable at your current life stage. If it isn’t, write is down somewhere important so that you have it for the future, and start on a new goal that is more aligned with your priorities for the upcoming year.

My final goal, after going through the check list (it passed every one!):

Save $10,000 for a down payment on a mini farm and house before 12/1/2020 by transferring $420 from checking to savings every pay period.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am super excited to start working toward my dreams in 2020! What about you? Are you motivated to finally ace your NYRs by turning them into SMARTER goals?

If you enjoyed this blog post or found it helpful, please comment and SHARE with your social media! Additionally, if you feel like you could use some help with setting and achieving your goals in 2020, check out my new Coaching services and schedule a call with me!

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