Last week covered Finance 101 where we looked at banking and money management.
(Need to add here what was covered in workshop once they have read through theirs
so we know what they did in detail etc). To be able to control money and start to save
sums of money it is necessary to learn about goal setting.
Today we are going to consider the SMART method of goal setting, look at why time
management of goals is so important and use a goal ladder to map out what goals you
want to achieve and when by. We hope to teach you the importance of having goals
and how to set and achieve these goals. Here is a goal ladder, we’ll use this at the end
to write out goals you want to achieve and plan how you will achieve them, but
throughout the workshop you can note down any ideas you have.
It is important to set goals so that you have a plan of action and have a desirable
situation to aim towards, it is also rewarding to set goals because achieving goals
gives you a great sense of satisfaction. Goals can help you to make progress with
everything and anything. You can also develop skills through the use of goal setting
and it can help you to prioritise your tasks.
When setting goals it is important to remember that perseverance is key to achieving
goals. If you give up at the first hurdle there’s no chance of reaching your goal; you
have to keep trying and eventually you’ll achieve what you want. It is also worth
remembering that you’re much more likely to achieve goals by breaking them down
into smaller more manageable goals, known as stepping stone goals.
SMART Goal Setting
A reliable method of setting suitable goals is to apply the SMART formula. Each
letter in SMART stands for a different word that is necessary for setting goals. I am
going to explain the words that each letter represents along with what each word
means in relation to setting goals.
S stands for specific. It is necessary for a goal to be specific for many reasons.
Firstly, this ensures that the aim is clear and well defined. Working towards
something vague is difficult because it isn't possible to gauge success. If a goal is
specific then there is a definite understanding of what must be done in order to reach
it. With a specific goal it is possible to plan exactly how and when it can be achieved.
It is much easier to be motivated to do something for example save a sum of money if
that thing - in this case, amount - is specific, such as £100.
Next is M, which stands for measurable. It is entirely necessary for a goal to be
measurable because if it is not, it isn't clear whether it has been achieved at the end.
After all, success is a measurable thing. In order to make a goal measurable and apply
this technique, within the goal there could be smaller goals which track progress.
This is dependent on the application of the specific component of SMART. When
working towards a specific goal it is easier to measure progress. Having concrete
criteria that must be met is helpful. It is also helpful to have small steps because this
reduces the risk that reaching the goal could be put off.
Then there is A, which is for attainable. There is no point in setting a goal if it is not
achievable. It is important to set attainable goals because if one sets unattainable
goals all the time and continuously fails to reach them it could become quite
demoralising. Small, attainable goals are better than huge, unrealistic ones. It is
difficult to commit to a target that you doubt is reachable. This does not mean that it
is good to set easy goals; in fact good goals should be difficult to some extent, just not
impossible. Again, here you could apply the measurable and specific components of
SMART. Small, specific goals, within a bigger goal are a good way to make the final
R is for realistic. This is linked with the idea that SMART goals must be attainable.
As I have already said, a goal is not attainable unless it is realistic and vice versa. In
order to make a goal realistic it is important to consider what resources, skills, time,
knowledge etc are available before it is decided upon. There is no point in having a
goal of building a house. for example, if one doesn't have the skills or resources to do
so. However, the word realistic should not be substituted for 'easy'. Goals should be
challenging but do-able.
Finally, T completes SMART and it stands for timely. For a goal to be timely there
must be some kind of timescale and a date for completion. A goal must be timely for
a number of reasons. Firstly, to increase motivation - it is difficult to make yourself
work hard if it feels as if you have all the time in the world. Also a timescale links
well with the measurable aspect of SMART goals. This is because it is good to set
small time-limits to go with the small targets within a big goal.
If all these aspects of SMART are put together, good goals can be both created and
achieved. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely - all of these should
be taken into consideration when making a goal to achieve the best results. Although
they may just seem like words, when put into practice they can have successful
In addition to goals being SMART, it is extremely important to have good time
management when setting and achieving goals. If you set a goal without a deadline
it’s likely that you will put it off and tell yourself that you will come back to it another
day, when it’s more than likely that you won’t actually do that. By setting a deadline
you give yourself a timeframe to complete a goal in; this is often motivating because
it encourages you to complete the task within the given timeframe.
When managing your time it is best to work out what tasks you want to complete and
whether any of them have compulsory deadlines. This will enable you to prioritise
the tasks in order of their importance and urgency. By doing this you can ensure that
all the important tasks get completed before any other tasks.
You should then determine a reasonable timeframe for each task to be completed in.
If you are too optimistic at this stage and unrealistic in setting time periods for tasks to
be completed within you will feel disappointed when you fail to complete the task
within this short period. It is best to set a timeframe that you know the task can be
completed within but it should still be one that is short enough to challenge you
slightly to ensure you keep working at the task. It is pointless setting a huge amount
of time aside for a small task because then you will put off the task thinking you have
all the time in the world and you will also be wasting time that could be spent on
completing other tasks.
When timetabling deadlines for tasks to be completed by you must ensure you
remember to give yourself a break, do not devote every minute of your day to
completing your goals. It is unnecessary to overwork yourself and you may become
frustrated if you do this.
If you have an ultimate goal that you want to achieve you should determine a
timeframe in which you hope to achieve the goal. Depending on the size and
difficulty of the goal this timeframe could be of any length, it may be within one
month or it could even be a year.
Once you have established an ultimate goal you should consider breaking this down
into smaller ‘stepping stone’ goals to help make the ultimate goal more achievable.
By breaking the goal down it becomes clearer what needs to be done to achieve the
goal because you provide yourself with a pathway to completion. It is also easier to
achieve because each small stepping stone goal should be much easier to complete in
comparison to the ultimate goal. Each of these goals should lead you to achieving the
ultimate goal. Each stepping stone goal should have a deadline within the ultimate
goal’s deadline. Remember to ensure that all stepping stone goals and the ultimate
goal are SMART goals.
If your ultimate goal is to get a job, you might have smaller goals such as learning
interview skills, building a CV, speaking with a careers advisor, researching careers
and so on in order to achieve the ultimate goal of securing a job.
It is important to remember not to put yourself down if you fail to achieve a goal by
when you would have hoped to. Remember perseverance is key, if you keep trying
you will eventually achieve what you want to. If you fail to complete a goal set
yourself a new deadline and ask yourself why you were unable to complete the goal
the first time so that you can try to avoid the same thing recurring. You may also find
achieving goals more satisfying if you reward yourself each time you achieve a goal,
for instance indulging in some chocolate or having some relaxation time etc.
Now using all the points we have just discussed we want you to fill in your goal
Think of a major goal you would like to achieve one day, then consider when you
would like to have achieved this goal by. But don’t forget to be SMART about it to
ensure the goal can be achieved within your chosen timeframe. Think of how much is
involved in the process of reaching this goal and how you can break this process
down into smaller more achievable goals. Set deadlines for each of these smaller
goals too. Write out each small goal, their deadlines, the ultimate goal and the date
you hope to complete that by. You could also list ways that you would like to reward
yourself for once you have managed to achieve each goal.
If there aren’t enough steps on the ladder you can add more goals to it, or if there are
too many don’t feel pressured to fill in each one, the number of stepping stone goals
necessary to achieve an ultimate goal will vary depending on the size and difficulty of
the ultimate goal.