“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
-Yogi Berra

Without conceptualizing your future, time moves forward while your accomplishments remain dormant – otherwise deemed the treadmill effect. Up until I learned how to properly set goals, it was basically always: “#1 Become a rock star, #2 Bench press 400 lbs., #3 Marry Brooke Shields”. There is no harm in dreaming; however, to increase the likelihood of achieving a goal, one should abide by a simple set of guidelines.

Smart is choosing the eco-friendly alternative when you’re looking for moving boxes – S.M.A.R.T. is the principle, which to this day, still remains a pivotal tool for goal conquest. Get your goals out of your head and in writing. Put up a chalkboard or whiteboard in your home or office and adjust your goals daily. When you are determining your future goals, make sure they are:

Specific – The more clearly you define your goal, the easier it will be to develop your path. Rather than “save money” as a goal, hone in on details. For example, “put $400 a week into a high interest savings account until June 2014.” The five W method is the most practical way of specifying your goals (Who? What? Where? When? Why?)

Measurable – A general goal such as “save money” could potentially never be achieved, in that we don’t know how much or for how long. Therefore, because we have not determined the point in which money has been saved, we will be unable to cross that goal off the list. You may use dates or specific increments as milestones which will provide guidance and indication as to whether or not you are on track. Ask yourself how much/ how many? By when?

Attainable – When you identify goals which are of great importance, you facilitate attitudes, skills, beliefs and financial capability towards achieving the goal. This process may come about on both a conscious and sub-conscious level.

Realistic – A goal such as “run a marathon” is certainly one that is achievable – given the adequate resources of course. If you are planning to run a marathon next week, yet you break a sweat riding the escalator, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Break down your goal into a sequence of smaller goals, such as “run 5kms by week six, 10kms by week ten…”

Timely – If you don’t put time restrictions on your goals you may never achieve them. “Replace the shingles on the roof” is a goal that can realistically be accomplished, however, without dictating the timeliness of the goal, procrastination will take precedent and you will constantly push it back.

Dream big and dream S.M.A.R.T!