Blog | Entrepreneurship

Goal Setting Success

Unsure how to start achieving your goals? Using the SMART system will make taking action easier

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Have you ever heard someone say, "I live for the weekend?" How about, "Well, it's Monday?" These are things that employees frequently say. Unfortunately, many people don't like their jobs. Even worse, they divide their life between two continuums: work time and free time.

Free time is a good word for it because if they aren't working, they're not making money. This, of course, is why even though they don't like their job, they still get up every Monday and go to the office.

But what if you could make “weekend” a term of your past? No, I don’t mean by working seven days a week. I mean there is a fundamental difference between the mind of the entrepreneur and that of the employee.

The entrepreneur doesn't view life as divided between work and play. Rather all of life is play, including work. So they don't live for the weekend or dread Mondays.

Success starts with setting goals

One of the ways you can move from depending on a job for your livelihood to controlling your financial destiny is to set goals like a pro.

For many people, setting goals is almost worse than going to work! But it doesn't have to be a chore. And if you take the time to do it right, the growth you see in your life will be motivation enough to keep doing it — and loving it.

Successful goals are SMART ones

But not just any goal will do. Although many people set goals, they often fail to achieve them. Set yourself up for success by making sure your goals are SMART.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Attainable

  • Realistic

  • Timely

But what exactly do these terms mean as it relates to goal setting?

Specific: Avoid vague goals by answering the "W" questions about your goal:

  • Who will do it?

  • What specifically will be done?

  • When will it be done by?

  • Where will you focus?

  • Why is the goal important?

Measurable: Include specific criteria that will allow you to measure your progress and know when you have attained your goal. Ask questions such as, "How much?" or "How many?"

Attainable: Make sure your goal is something you are willing and able to work toward. Start by asking, "Is this a goal I am really committed to achieving?" If you are not committed, you will struggle with the discipline and change that will be needed to achieve your goal. You also want to make sure your goal can be achieved with the skills and resources you have currently available.

Realistic: You should set a goal that is challenging but that you also truly believe you can accomplish. If you believe a goal is too hard, it will be. If it doesn't require growth or extra effort to achieve, it's too easy. You know you have a realistic goal when you feel excited and challenged when you think about your goal. If you feel frightened or overwhelmed when you think about your goal, try to determine how you can break it down into smaller, more manageable goals that progress to the ultimate goal.

Timely: A timeframe is needed to create a sense of urgency. Without a timeframe, a goal becomes relegated to the, "I'll get to it when it's convenient" category. Challenging goals are never simply convenient; they require some discipline to achieve. If it were convenient and easy you wouldn't need a goal in the first place.

Remember, if you start working on your goal and discover that any part of your SMART criteria is either too easy or too difficult, you can modify that part of your goal. Just make sure you keep it challenging but not discouraging.

Examples of SMART goals

Crafting SMART goals can take a little practice, so let’s look at a few examples of right versus wrong:

Weak Goal: I will buy real estate for cash flow.

Strong Goal: I will buy a single-family home in my area that cash flows at least $100 a month, by the end of this year.

Weak Goal: I will invest in precious metals.

Strong Goal: I will buy at least 10 ounces of silver for $28 or less per ounce by July 31st.

Weak Goal: I will learn about the self-storage business.

Strong Goal: By March 15th, I will have learned what it takes to buy and run a self-storage property including all startup and operating costs, upside potential, downside risk, and exit strategies, and decide if this is an area I am interested in investing in.

I've seen the positive effects of SMART goals in countless women over the years. All it takes is getting started.

Now that you’re SMART, start today!

Have you ever dated a man who you knew probably wasn’t The One, but for the time being fit the bill? Someone who serves a current purpose (fun or companionship), but you know in your heart there’s just no future with (too much baggage or geographic distance). Well, that’s called being with Mr. Right Now while you patiently wait for Mr. Right to show up.

Interestingly, the same rules can apply when it comes to making any change in your life — in reality, all the stars don’t have to align and things don’t have to be perfect in order to move forward with something. There’s a lot to be said for shifting your focus from “right” toward building your “right now.”

Women consistently rank “financial issues” as the No. 1 most pressing concern in their lives — over family, health or time. Yet women notoriously hold themselves back from getting actively involved in building their own financially secure future because they:

  1. Have little knowledge about money and investing

  2. Find the subject of finances too complicated, confusing, or overwhelming

  3. say they have no time to devote to their financial life because of children, job or other obligations

As such, women are twice as likely to live their retirement years in poverty. But the real kicker? The majority of these women now in poverty were not poor when their husbands were alive. And which gender lives longer? Women! That means that many women will be widowed in their golden years and suddenly forced to support themselves for 15-20 more years — and often with no prior experience having done so. Talk about setting yourself up for failure.

While women listed the above excuses in a survey, I firmly believe that what’s really holding them back from acquiring and then applying that knowledge is a financial education. True education is meant to draw out the information so that students learn through their own discovery process — and where does most learning take place? By doing. Sure, it’s wise to sit in a classroom for a bit, read some books, take a few free online courses. But you’ll never learn everything through these methods. Eventually, you’ll have to go out into the real world and apply that knowledge. And that part can be scary.

Take one step forward, any step will do

When it comes to a new business venture, career opportunity or trying their hand at investing, women can all-too-easily get caught in a cycle of analysis paralysis that leaves them too afraid to put one foot in front of the other. And even if they finally do, they are left constantly wondering, “Am I doing this right?” Maybe. And maybe not. But there’s nothing wrong with getting started with what you know “right now.” You have to start somewhere. Otherwise, you’ll never get that practical, hands-on experience you need to move from “right now” into “right.”

And guess what? It’s OK to make mistakes (you will, no matter what). It’s also OK to fail (you might, despite your best efforts). Robert and I once had a tremendous amount of bad debt (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars) — some from an early business venture of Robert’s that had gone south, the rest was from being broke and charging as much as we could on our credit cards just to survive. But boy did we learn a lot. And our cash flow statement today would show that we dusted ourselves off, used the knowledge we gained from each mistake, and went finally achieved financial independence.

So although making a leap forward might feel like doing the impossible (take this test to see if you’re sabotaging yourself with negative thoughts), just think how much more impossible it will feel when you’re 72 years old and trying to generate income to replace all the money you spent on your late husband’s medical bills.

You know enough “right now” to take one step forward in your quest for financial freedom. Once you do, take another. And another. Soon you’ll be walking, then running. And that’s how you end up on the “right” path — by goal setting and taking action.

Original publish date: July 20, 2016

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