Setting SMART Goals Leads to Success


By Jennifer Bouchie, MSW, LSW, Youth First Inc.

Goal setting is important at all stages of our lives. Whether we are talking about our kids or ourselves, knowing how to set obtainable goals is key to finding fulfillment.

The struggle with goal setting is that sometimes we see the big picture but have a hard time visualizing all the small steps it takes to get to the desired outcome. So how do we set realistic goals?

One of the most popular acronyms for goal setting is SMART goals. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Once you have a big picture goal, setting up steps in a SMART goal system helps you break it down into bite-sized pieces. This helps make the goal more obtainable and helps you see success along the way.

First, clearly define a specific goal. Write it down or put it on a dream board. Be sure to remind yourself frequently of what you are trying to accomplish. If your goal is to save money, identify how much you need to save each pay period to reach your final savings goal. It’s also important to know why you’re setting a goal. Are you saving for a vacation or a down payment on a house? This can help you determine what savings amount is reasonable for you. 

Second, be sure the goal is measurable. If you’re keeping the same goal of improving your budget, this is easy to measure. You will be able to tell each pay period if you were able to stick to your goal of moving over the desired amount into savings.

Third, you need to make sure the goals are achievable. If you’re like me, when you set goals you want to reach them as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the best way to reach your desired outcome. If you make your goals unobtainable, you set yourself up for failure, which can result in giving up on the goal altogether.

Fourth, are your goals realistic? Maybe the issue is not that you can’t save the money, but maybe you’re asking too much of yourself too quickly. It’s okay to reevaluate and change your savings timeframe. If you decide to put less money back each pay period, you will still reach your savings goal even if it takes more time than anticipated. Being realistic is crucial.

Fifth, be sure your goals are timely. If you have a big picture goal, make sure not to lose sight of the baby steps that are going to get you there.

As humans, we are always trying to grow and learn. These skills can be used for adult tasks such as budgeting but also for tasks with our kids such as improving grades, learning to play an instrument, or developing athletic skills. Setting SMART goals is a great way to move yourself forward to achieve your dreams!