I recently mentioned that I had talked with my wife about creating some goals for the coming year. Notice that I’m calling these “goals”, and not ”New Year’s Resolutions”. Too many people’s new year’s resolutions come and go without much thought. People have ideas of things they’d like to do, and make super generalized resolutions about things. Some common resolutions include losing weight, getting fit, quitting smoking, and save money.
Here is where you’ll find a big difference between general new year’s resolutions and SMART goals. As I briefly mentioned before, this is an acronym to make sure that your goals are:
Specific - This stresses the need for a specific goal over a more general one. This means the goal is clearly defined. To be specific, a goal must tell exactly what is expected.
Measureable – This stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward reaching the goal.The rationale is that if a goal is not measureable, it isn’t possible to know whether you are making progress toward your goal. Measuring progress helps you stay on track.
Attainable – This stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. An attainable goal should certainly make you have to work at achieving it, but it shouldn’t be something so extreme that you’ll never be able to accomplish.
Relevant – This stresses choosing goals that matter to you. This should be pretty straightforward. Choosing goals that are important and that will have a meaningful impact on your life will make you more likely to achieve them.
Timely – This stresses the importance of grounding goals with a time frame. A commitment to a deadline helps focus your efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date.
My 2013 Goals
Now that we’ve gone over what makes a good goal, let’s go over my goals for the coming year. I’ve tried to include a variety of different kinds of goals. These include financial goals, family goals, and personal goals. I think it’s important to have goals in multiple life areas. I also think that the number of goals is equally important. If you have too many goals, it can become overwhelming and you could easily end up losing track and quitting. If you have too few goals, you probably aren’t challenging yourself.
Pay off all our credit card debt by September 30, 2012
We incurred some credit card debt this year on a number of things, primarily the replacement of our washer and dryer. I signed up for a new credit card with 15 months of 0% interest specifically for these purchases. The no interest period ends in October of 2013, so I’m setting a deadline of September, 2013 for paying it off in full. I know what the outstanding balance will be at the end of this year and divided it by 9 to arrive at what I need to pay every month going forward to have it paid off in full by my target deadline.
Volunteer 24 Hours to Junior Achievement of America
I’ve been wanting to give back more of my time through volunteer activities for a while, but just haven’t pulled the trigger on it. With a little boy at home, I’m hesitant to sign up for things that take up my evenings or weekends. Junior Achievement has programs (which are 6-weeks long on average) where I can go into a class at a nearby school (ranging from grades K-12) for one hour a week and teach about finance, economics, and money management. Educating kids about money and finance is something I am passionate about, and this is exactly the kind of volunteer opportunity I’m cut out for. I did something similar a few times in college and really enjoyed it.
Volunteering twenty-four hours equates to taking part in two 6-week programs, which should be very attainable. That would come out to 12 hours actually in the classroom with another 12 hours of lesson preparation. I already checked with my managers at work (since this will be taking place during the workday), and they are fine with it. The next step is to go ahead and contact the agency and get the ball rolling.
Go Out on a Date With My Wife Every Month
My wife and I rarely ever have “date nights” now that we have a little boy around. In 2013, we are going to go on a date every month. To achieve this is mostly a matter of logistics, such as finding someone to watch our little boy for a few hours while we go out. There are plenty of grandparents and aunts, so I think we should be ok with this. In addition, I am going to schedule an automatic transfer from each paycheck to go into a designated “date fund”. All date night expenses will then be paid from this fund. This is important so that we don’t, for whatever reason, spend our date money on other things.
Earn $5,000 From The Family Finances By December 31, 2013
I’m going to be honest here. I started this blog as an attempt to create some kind of side income. I knew it wasn’t going to make me rich, but the hope was that it could provide some extra money to help with our family finances. As of right now I’m averaging between $200 and $300 a month from this blog. In order to earn $5,000 next year, I need to increase this to just over $450 a month. This is a stretch, but I think it’s possible. To do this, I am going to write one guest post at another blog each month, submit my posts to carnivals every week, and continue my current commenting/Tweeting patterns. Doing these things should help my Alexa ranking continue to drop and my PageRank and MozRank continue to increase, leading to more interest from advertisers.
Read 6 Books
I used to be an avid reader. I loved a lot of the classics, such as Les Miserables, War and Peace, and The Three Musketeers. However, once I started blogging, I found that I didn’t have time to read anymore. I am going to make time for this and am making a goal to read 6 books in 2013. This comes out to one book every two months, which I should be able to do even with my limited time availability.