Office of Student Financial Success

How to Create SMART Goals: Just in Time for the New Year!

Wow, this past year sure went by fast. We now have less than a month to enjoy all that 2015 has to offer. Before you say goodbye to it, let’s take some time to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished. Kudos to those of you who set a goal of following a budget for the first time and stuck with it (or attempted to). Maybe you ran a 5K in a record time or aced that statistics class. It’s okay to brag a little!

At the Student Loan Education Office, we cannot stress the importance of goal setting enough! Setting goals for yourself, financial goals in particular, can help you pay off your student loans quicker, save up for that new car, or begin retirement savings. We can say that we want to save up to buy a new car, but if we don’t set goals and implement a physical savings plan, it won’t ever happen. That’s why it’s important to incorporate SMART goals.

If you’ve ever taken a business or personal finance class, you may have heard of SMART goals. When we are creating goals for ourselves, SMART is an acronym that helps us remember the criteria for each goal. Let’s say your goal is start your own business. This is a great ambition, but the goal is too broad and vague. This is how we will break down the goal into a SMART one.

Specific – State exactly what you want to accomplish (who, what, where, why)
Ex: I will sell handmade cards through Etsy.com to make more money.

Measurable – How will you measure your goal? This will give specific feedback and hold you accountable.
Ex: I will be ready to take my first Etsy order within four weeks, and I will aim to sell a minimum of five cards per week

Achievable – Goals should push you, but it is important that they are reasonably attainable.
Ex: I will get set up on Etsy first. Then I will build an inventory of 30 handmade cards to sell. Finally, I will promote my business and build customer relationships through word of mouth and social media.

Relevant – Is the goal worthwhile and will it lead to the overall mission or vision?
Ex: Selling handmade cards will allow me to benefit financially from my favorite hobby.

Time-Based – Do you have a time-frame listed in your goal? This holds you accountable again and helps motivate you.                               Ex: My Etsy store will be up and running within 4 weeks, and I have an inventory of 30 cards to sell in six weeks. 

New SMART Goal: Within a month, I am going to get set up to sell handmade cards on Etsy, which will allow me to benefit financially from my favorite hobby. Within six weeks, I will have an inventory of 30 handmade cards to sell and aim to sell a minimum of five cards per week, building customer relationships through word of mouth and social media.

There you have it! We turned a broad goal into a SMART goal. What will your goals be for 2016? Whether it’s a goal of eating healthier, volunteering more, or saving up for a new car, implementing SMART goals will help you achieve it!