Doing Life

How to Set Goals (and actually achieve them)

If you’ve been following this blog for even just a little while, you know that our lifestyle is very much based around competition.  Half of our income comes from rodeo winnings, and you can’t win if you aren’t competitive!  With competition comes goals.  Logan, my husband, is a great motivator and goal setter.  By watching him and studying his methods, I’ve been able to develop my own goal setting strategy that you can apply to any goal you wish.

DREAM IT INTO EXISTENCE

Be honest with yourself.  What is that you want?  What is that thing that is always on your brain?  Maybe you want to quit your job and be a stay-at-home mom.  Maybe you want to take your colt and make it into a top notch performance athlete.  This is a personal choice and could be anything from losing three pounds to earning a million dollars.  Even though these all sound like very different goals, you can actually use the same steps to achieve them.  Whatever that desire is, write it down.  A goal that is not written down into existence is merely a wish.  When you convert a wish into a goal by writing it down, you solidify the desire and “dream it into existence”.  You just established what I call the output goal, or the goal that is achieved by all of your efforts.  The work doesn’t stop here.  You can now see that goal every day and work towards it.

REFINE IT

Now that you have an actual goal in mind, it’s time to refine it.  A good goal should be SMART.  A goal that is SMART will Strengthen you, is Measurable, is Attainable, is Reasonable, and is Timely.  Let’s use paying off debt as an example of a goal.  It’s easy to say “I want to pay off my $50k of student loan debt.”  Cool, but how?  Here’s how you can apply the SMART goal setting method to accomplish that goal:

STRENGTHEN YOU

Do you want to pay off your debt in one year, or simply make the minimum payment and pay it off when your grandkids are in college themselves?  Choose something that is going to challenge or strengthen you.  Short term sacrifices that strengthen you now are worth the long term reward of being debt free!

MEASUREABLE

A good goal is one that you can measure.  You should be able to track your progress so that you know if you are on the right track or need to work harder.

ATTAINABLE

It is encouraged to set lofty goals, just make sure that they are also attainable so that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment.  Paying off $50k of debt in a year may not be attainable if your yearly wages are half that amount.  A more appropriate goal would be to pay off $10k in the next twelve months.

REASONABLE

This goal attribute is very similar to that of attainability.  It is reasonable to say that you’d like to be debt free in a year.  It’s not reasonable to say that you’re going to live in a tent with your spouse and three kids in order to do so.

TIMELY

Set a time limit on when you want to achieve your goal.  It isn’t enough to proclaim that you want to pay off debt; you also need to establish a future date that you want to have the debt paid off.

Now that we have refined our output goal, we need to break it down into smaller input goals.  We will continue to use the example of paying off $50k of student loans.  Applying the SMART method of goal setting, let’s assume an appropriate goal is to pay off the balance in two years.

$50k sounds like an overwhelming amount, but it’s not so bad if you break it down like this: $50k in two years, OR $25k per year, OR $2,083 per month, OR $962 per paycheck (since a lot of people are paid every two weeks or 26 times a year.)

Here is a good point to evaluate the loftiness of your goal.  Is it still reasonable?  Is it still attainable?  Now you have to ask yourself a very important goal setting question:

WHAT ARE THE SHORT TERM SACRIFICES I MAKE NOW THAT WILL HELP ME ACHIEVE THIS GOAL?

This will be different for everyone based on where your are in life.  For this example, you have to find a way to free up $962 per paycheck.  This could be downsizing to a smaller home to save on rent, following a rigid grocery budget, or getting a second job or side hustle.  Figure out what it will take and WRITE IT DOWN with the original goal. Good goal setting requires short term sacrifices that often aren’t easy; however, the end result is very rewarding and worth those sacrifices.  What is more important?  Spending $5 per coffee at Starbucks or $250 at Nordstrom, an $800 phone or breaking the chains of the slavery that is debt?  I’ll let you think on that one for a minute.

Logan and I use this goal setting tool in every aspect of our life.  I’ve set debt goals and rearranged our budget multiple times in order to get them achieved.  I watch Logan every day grind out his daily tasks in order to stand over a bucking horse in a yellow chute for ten rounds this December.  I run an extra tenth of a mile each run so that I can run a 5k with the baby this summer.  What’s so great about this method of goal setting is that even if you don’t reach the desired output goal, you will be a lot closer than if you never started the process, and you can evaluate your progress.

My “goal” with this post is that it can help just one person obtain the life they want.  I firmly believe that a structured goal setting process such as this one can do just that!

-Lacey

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