Over the last two few weeks, we’ve talked about Results Goals (desired outcomes over which you have minimal or no direct control) and Activity Goals (the ability to achieve those goals is almost completely in your hands) as well as how to “Find the Formula” to identify the elements that will drive a particular result.
One common measurement of the quality of a goal can be found in the acronym SMART. There are several different versions of the SMART acronym but here is the version that I find most helpful: a SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Let’s investigate each of those elements. The first two, Specific and Measurable, work well together. An easy way to think about Specific and Measurable is that a good goal is one where you (as well as an accountability partner or coach) know with 100% certainty that the goal has been achieved. The measurement doesn’t have to be a number; it could be a yes or no. For example, the goal of “Obtain my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification” is definitely specific and measurable.
The adjective “more” will typically doom most goals. For example, a goal of “Promote referrals more often” lacks specificity. A better version would be “Share a client story with 10 clients each month.”
An Achievable goal is one that you can realistically reach with sufficient time and effort. The aforementioned goal of “Share a client story with 10 clients a month” should be very achievable assuming you are meeting with at least 10 different clients each month.
Some financial advisors and financial planners create “stretch” goals on top of their regular goals to push themselves a little bit harder.
One common mistake is when a goal “sounds reasonable” but hasn’t been fully examined in the context of all the other goals and responsibilities in your life.
The next component is Relevant which means either that the goal is an Activity goal that ties to a Results goal or that the goal is meaningful to you. If you don’t have emotional leverage on the goal, you are less likely to want to work on it. In other words, if you don’t care about the goal, it’s not a good goal.
Lastly, a goal should be Time-Bound. It should have a “due” date for completion. Otherwise, it will not create a sense of urgency and forward momentum.
Now it’s up to you. It’s been said that goals without a plan are just a wish. Time to stop wishing and start achieving!