When you think of where you want to be, what you want to accomplish, or different wants that you have, how do you come up with goals for those desires? If you would go up to the majority of college students and ask that question, I would imagine that they could give an answer, but that answer may not include the S.M.A.R.T. thought process.
The S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. For example, think of it in this way. When asked to explain a goal for the future, many college students would respond by saying, “to be debt free.” Would you consider that a S.M.A.R.T goal? The answer…no. First, the goal is not very specific. In order for this goal to be more specific, you might add, “I want to be debt free by paying off my student loans, credit card bills, car payments, and anything else that may cause me to be in debt.” Secondly, the goal is not measurable. Yes, being debt free means having no debt, but because we don’t know where the student is starting, what debt they have already acquired, or if they even have any debt, we cannot measure what it would take to be debt free. Once that information is known, then we can begin to measure what it would take to reach the goal. Thirdly, is this an attainable goal for us to accomplish? This question cannot yet be answered because the student did not give a way to measure how to reach that goal. Stating that I would like to pay off $20,000 of student loans in 3 years is measurable. This also leads into my fourth point. Is the goal realistic? To answer this question, we have to first figure out where to start, where that goal ends, what it is going to take to get there, and even why they want to accomplish this goal. Finally, the goal is not timely. There is no deadline attached to this goal. The specific amount of debt the student has, how much he or she is able to pay each period, whether or not they can actually work on this goal or not, and how they plan to get there all play into whether the goal is timely.
While being debt free is a great goal to strive towards, there are other aspects that play into this goal. Using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym when setting goals can be very beneficial in order to think about goals as it gives criteria to the goals that keep you accountable in accomplishing them along the way. When goals are broad, it is a lot harder to track them. As you create goals, try using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym and remember, as unexpected life happenings occur, sometimes goals need adjusted. If you need help setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal and sticking with it, email me at [email protected] or schedule a NEXUS appointment with me online: http://www.ronblueinstitute.com/nexus-financial-discipleship-center.