The importance of goal-setting
You probably already know that setting goals, especially SMART ones, is incredibly important to achieving success. You also probably already know that writing your goals down increases your chances of success, and that sharing your goals with someone else further boosts your chances.
But why does setting a goal increase your chances of success?
By definition, any SMART goal is going to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. Wanting to drive across the country isn’t a goal; rather, it’s a fanciful wish. However, add a few necessary ingredients and you can turn it into a SMART goal.
Drive from Vancouver, BC, to St. John’s, Newfoundland by March 31, 2016.
Suddenly, you’ve got a specific and measurable goal (start in Vancouver, end in St. John’s) which is attainable and relevant to the original wish, as well as a deadline. There won’t be a question as to whether or not you met your goal. Either you arrived in St. John’s before March 31 or you didn’t.
Having set this goal defines exactly what you’re working towards, and it creates a map to guide you from Point A to Point B. Once you’ve clearly defined Point A and Point B, you’ll see the steps you need to take to finish the journey. And with a hard deadline, you know how to pace yourself because you’ll know exactly how much time you have left to achieve your goal.
The good kind of tunnel vision
Having this defined goal can result in Tunnel Vision, but in a good way. Now you’ll be focused on your goal, and any potential distractions will be blurred. You’ll modify your behaviour accordingly because you’ll evaluate your decisions based on the impact it’ll have on you reaching your goal.
For example, last year, although we were in debt and I had hoped to pay it off by the end of the year, I wasn’t really committed to it. I had stopped blogging in September, and unsurprisingly, our strides towards paying it off decreased significantly also. Every time overtime was offered, I’d think about how nice it’d be to have extra cash, but realize how tired I was and opt instead to go home.
This time around, however, I have very defined goals which we’re both very committed to. I think about it every single day and it has modified my behaviour in several ways, including:
- The introduction of our Cash Diet
- Committing to not shopping and adopting a minimalist closet
- Taking overtime whenever it’s offered (including today) and working 11.5 hour shifts even though I’m feeling exhausted (and no, working overtime ≠ more taxes!)
- Opting out of buying more food at work despite not having brought food for an 11.5 hour shift (the shift was only extended halfway through the day) because I know if I can hold off until I get home, I’ll be saving money
- Selling things on Kijiji
- My husband picking up extra shifts on weekends
Having such a well-defined goal also helps me gauge our progress and how likely we are to succeed. Based on our current balance, to reach our goal, I know we’ll have to pay $334.77 per week (not including interest!). This figure also identifies how easily we can pay off our loan before year’s end – even if we pay $350 every week, we’ll meet our goal ahead of target.
Tomorrow will be a great payday for me – not only is it for two full weeks, it will also include holiday pay (at double time) and some overtime (at time and a half!)