We have all been told to make smart goals and luckily for us, there is a cute acronym already in place to help us do that. If you haven’t heard of the SMART goals acronym it spells out how to come up with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely goals. But how do we use this to create our dreams a reality? For me, I also have to add purpose to why I want to achieve my goals. Without purpose, all the goals in the world wouldn’t mean a thing. These are all of the things that are running through my mind when setting personal and family goals.
Goal Setting as a Family
When you are setting personal goals you list out what you want to accomplish and all of the steps you have to take to achieve them. When setting goals as a family you have to make sure everyone is on the same page and that it fits with your family’s ever-changing life. You have to strategize with your partner’s individual motivation in mind. When setting goals with my husband, I have to consider that his motivation is to provide for and protect his family. If the goal doesn’t provide some type of protection planning in the beginning then all the goals I want to accomplish will get nowhere. We are a team so, we have to agree on the end goals and strategize on how to achieve them.
We usually come to a quicker resolution when we have a long-term goal in mind. Some of those goals that come up are becoming financially free, being able to comfortably protect and provide for our children, and leaving our day jobs to pursue our passion. These are pretty large goals that take a lot of patience and sacrifice. We all have some type of long-term goal that won’t take overnight to accomplish, but many small steps in the right direction can get them accomplished.
The 5-year Plan
When you have such large goals as becoming financially free this isn’t a one and done type of goal. It is best to chop these types of goals by 5-year increments instead of rushing into it. For the first 5 years, you could be focused on getting out of debt and creating wealthy habits like living below your means. These are not easy things to learn or get used to by any means. But by separating your large goals within your proper life stages you can make the transition easier. It doesn’t have to be pretty or specific at first, just focus on getting the skeleton complete for how you want to live your dream life.
Here is an example of a 5-year plan that we recently transitioned through. We merged some years and others dragged, but we still got to the end result that we dreamed of. This is a basic example of how to strategize your 5-year plan year by year.
Year 1: Get out of student loan debt
Year 2: Get married and start a family
Year 3: Build 3-6 month emergency fund
Year 4: Start Business and stay 1 month ahead of expenses
Year 5: Live off of one income
The SMART year-to-year goals
The goal is to cut your big goals into smaller goals so you don’t get overwhelmed. I also need to make sure that each goal is still considered a SMART goal with every chop you make. Do this by creating an action plan for your yearly goals and attacking that checklist one and a time. If you are trying to be financially free then your first goal to attack is budgeting, lowering your cost of living, and then focusing on getting out of debt. Organizing your goals in chronological order will help you set a priority on which goals can get completed each year until you reach your main long-term goal.
Here is an example of how to make sure each layer of your skeleton is still SMART. Separate each individual goal and make sure that you have mastered each letter of the acronym SMART starting with year 1-5.
Make sure your goals are detailed and not vague about where you want to end up. Instead of making a general goal of being debt-free, try to focus on which part of that debt you want to attach first. Like the example above the goal wasn’t to be debt-free it was to be student loan-free.
Set a specific date, amount, and/or percentages to note when you want to complete this goal successfully. Without these measurements, you won’t know when to plan your celebration lol.
Create goals that are realistic and also challenging. Make note of what your situation allows you to do and what advantages you currently have to make these goals a reality.
Make sure that your goal is consistent with your long-term goal. In other words, your goals action plan should be like stepping stones moving you forward to your goals.
Put a deadline for when you want to complete this goal. Put some pressure on yourself to level up and complete your goals in a timely fashion, not fashionably late.
The Quarterly Check-up
Now that you have your 5-year skeleton plan set up and your SMART year-to-year goals it’s time to fill in any gaps and to hold yourself accountable to those goals. The whole point of doing all of this work is to make sure you are actually doing the correct steps to achieve your goals and to make sure if they are working for you. During your quarterly check-up, you will notice when you need to make modifications or change the strategy altogether to match your current goals. Every 3 months set a date to go over your goals with your accountability partner. This will build social pressure to complete your goals. When doing this with your spouse you will both feel the pressure to not disappoint your partner and to stick to your word. This is one of the strongest motivators for completing goals.
Now that you have a good roadmap on how to create your goals into a reality. I would recommend pre-setting a goal celebration date in your calendar for each small victory. So go crush those goals one at a time!
- 5 Steps to Plan for your Family’s Next Budget Meeting
- What I Wish I Knew About Money in My 20s
- Emergency Funds: What is it and how much do I need?