But here are a couple of quick tips.
Sometimes it helps to solidify the concept by describing some applications of its use, which are described here. For clarification, the acronym is taken to stand for, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based.
Goal: To work out every day for 20 minutes per day and achieve a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 20. I will use the X System to attain that goal.
Explanation: The specific part of the goal is to achieve the Body Mass Index of 20. It is measurable as I can take a BMI reading throughout the period to compare. It may be attainable, assuming I believe in the X System or have used it before. It is realistic in that if I go to the gym and the assumptions are true, I will reach the goals. For time-based, I have given it three months and 20 minutes per day.
Save for College
Goal: To save $50 per month in a 529 account and continue to do this until my child is ready for college as the cost of college keeps rising.
Explanation: Based on historical trends, college costs rise every year. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that they will continue to rise. The specific goal is to use a 529 account, which in the United States, allows for tax breaks when saving for college. Most bank statements will allow me to measure whether I am saving enough each month and make the necessary adjustments. These goals are attainable as long as I can continue working. If you made some projections based on the number of years before needing the money, this plan is likely to be realistic. However, the best course of action would be to compare alternate plans to see which would give the best return. The frequency (time-based) is monthly over some years.
As you can see from these two general applications, there may be conditions that you need to consider when making these SMART goals. You have to make assumptions that may not always turn out to be correct. Therefore, you should always try to factor in alternatives whenever possible.
It’s not a perfect system but it is a useful guideline to help you come up with a solid plan.
The ideal situation is to be able to address each of the five components of SMART. Don’t worry if you find some overlap. As long as you can work from your plan, it won’t make much of a difference.