Finding a sure way to achieve your goals would open up doors you have never dreamed of. It would mean never feeling disappointed in yourself and always basking in the glory of accomplishment. While this may sound like a far-off fantasy, it is possible to configure your plans in a way that allows for a flexible yet realistic assessment of your progress towards any goal so that you never feel stuck. All that is required is that you are honest with yourself and you put in the work.
The SMART framework for setting goals consists in attaining clarity and specificity in your goal-setting. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed. SMART goals are meant to keep you highly focused and to allow you to clearly prioritize your activities. Like all heuristics, its efficacy is dependent on how it is put to use within a specific context. Individual discernment may render the framework powerful by quickening a realistic decision process.
By setting SMART goals, you are refusing to ignore what must be done. Your goal, in this case, is very specific, it is measurable by a yes or no question (Have you paid your student debt?), achievable by taking action (Getting an income and living a lifestyle that allows you to accumulate savings and make payments becomes top priority.), making sure it is relevant to your financial future, and you can time it with milestones (Knowing how much you have paid by what date.). Each of the elements of the framework contributes to the others.
A highly specific goal tells you what you need to do now, later, and eventually. Having priorities that align with a single destination. As you begin to streamline the activities that will get you to that destination, it becomes easier to lay out increasingly granular steps. But for prioritization to work, you must have the strength to exclude what does not contribute to accomplishing your specific goal.
Describing your goal in measurable terms allows you to determine whether or not the goal has been reached. No excuses are needed. Usually, this takes the form of a question that can be answered in yes or no terms. Has the amount been transferred? Have I moved? Has this been done already? No partial accomplishments are permitted and, rather, definite guidelines are set that admit only clear-cut answers. Having measurable goals contributes to a sense of progress based on facts.
The attainability of a goal keeps your feet on the ground. An attainable goal is a real one. Once stated, you should be able to know exactly how it would feel to have accomplished it. If the proposed end is too foreign for you, it is likely outside your grasp. By allowing you to make progress in a step-wise fashion, setting milestones brings into view those goals which feel just out of reach.
Relevancy is what makes your goal personal. It is the one aspect that asks you to evaluate the relation of your wishes to your actual needs. A relevant goal will reveal its connection to an urgent need. It will reflect external (physical and tangible) as well as internal (psychological and emotional) aspects of that need. These are questions that nobody else can answer but you. Make sure your goals are relevant and you will make sure to never lack the fire to pursue them with all your might.
Finally, setting a time frame gives you the ability to create a plan in minute detail. If well-calibrated and coordinated with the actions you take, timing lets you foresee when things will happen. Having a clear and timed set of things to do also allows you to take a breath and concentrate on your current activities rather than worrying about the future. Failing to reach one of the milestones in a timed plan tells you of the need to readjust your activities, expectations, or both.
So, set your eyes on something that arises as a need in your life. Then, you must determine a specific form of that goal, one that does not lend itself to more than one interpretation. Find a way to measure whether it has been attained with a yes or no question. Be realistic and set an attainable path towards your goal. Make sure that this goal is highly relevant to you by uncovering what real need it satisfies. Set a time frame for the attaining of these steps, follow them with decisive action. Know when to readjust. By following these steps you will bring the seemingly impossible within your grasp.