The Real Key to Acheiving Your Goals

Dreams (also known as wishes) are often vague, even pie-in-the-sky desires; they need not be realistic, or specific. Common examples might inlcude “I want to retire rich” or “I wish I looked like Jessica Alba.”

Many dreams never become reality because they aren’t true desires. I might dream of winning the lottery on occassion, but that’s not a serious objective in my life. There’s nothing wrong with having dreams, but if your true desires never make the transition from dreams to goals then they can become frustrating regrets.

Goals are more Specific than dreams. To qualify as a SMART goal, your dream should also be measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Setting goals with all of these characteristics almost ensures you’ll reach them if you put your plan in action and stick to it.

Specific & Measurable: “I want to have $1,000,000 by the time I retire” and “I want to lose 20 pounds” are closer to goals than dreams because they are specific and measurable objectives.

Attainable & Timely: To really make them goals you have to outline specific steps that will enable you to attain them, and you should have a deadline. Our examples would become “I will accumulate $1,000,000 by the time I turn 65 by saving $1000 each month” and “I will lose 20 pounds in six months by jogging for 30 minutes 4 days a week.”

Realistic: Of course, if your goals aren’t realistic (because, say, you’re 63 with nothing saved and you earn $50,000 a year), then they aren’t really goals at all.

It’s easy to turn your dreams into goals on paper. But the real key to acheiving those goals–and being satisfied when you do–is setting goals that reflect your true values. That may sound cheesy, but it’s especially true when it comes to financial goals.

If you pick some arbitrary net worth target or aim to accumulate expensive homes and cars based on someone else’s expectations, not only might you find it difficult to muster the motivation and discipline to get there, but you’re very unlikely to feel fulfilled when you arrive. Linking your financial goals to your values (education, family, independence, etc.) gives you the energy, encouragement, and motivation you need to work towards your goals. And you might even end up happy when you reach them.

More from Meg at The World of Wealth

7 thoughts on “The Real Key to Acheiving Your Goals”

  1. Add something else: Publish your goals. When you write them down and review them daily, and when you are open to broadcasting your goals to friends, family, business cronies– THEN you have something official. No going back now… unless you have a better idea and an improved goal. Goals are always changing and evolving, as life itself does.

  2. Good points 10K and JB–it’s important to be realistic, but it’s not really a “goal” if you’re almost certain you will acheive it with little to no effort. Sometimes, especially financially, “goals” are easily confused with “projections.”

    Newbie, I agree with you about publishing your goals, or at least writing them down for yourself. I periodically write goals–in ink!–in the back of my daily planner.

  3. The difficult part is often wrapping your head around such a large and far-off goal. (Speaking specifically of something such as retirement.)

    40 years away is unimaginable when you’re 21 years old. You think you have all the time in the world but when you get to 40 years old, retirement becomes a lot more real.

    It’s also almost impossible to comprehend a large number such as “I’ll need 1 million dollars at retirement.” It’s almost not real. How does one get to $1 million?

    The mind can’t easily comprehend a number that large so it often shuts down and does nothing. But if you’re able to break it down to–“I need to save X dollars every month” then it becomes something that you can wrap your head around and it’s much easier to achieve.

  4. Good article Meg, but as know through experience,life itself can present many unexpected challenges and obstacles.

    So that even with SMART goal setting there’s no guarantee that a goal aligned with your values or passion will in fact be achieved as believed 😉

    For me, the most effective and enjoyable goals have been signposts along rocky paths where I didn’t know the end destination in detail… although I made plenty of plans lol

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