All Things Financial Planning Blog



How often in life have you been able to accomplish something without first defining what it is that you’re attempting to do? For example, have you gotten a new job without first deciding to apply for it? Did you purchase a new car without first contemplating your options and then deciding it was time for an upgrade? It’s likely that in each of these circumstances your first step was to identify your goal(s) and from there establish a plan of attack to reach them. The same scenario applies to organizing your financial life. One of the very first steps in financial planning is setting goals. Setting goals allows you to define your hopes and dreams for your future, both short and long-term.

When thinking about and setting your goals, ask yourself what would have to happen in the next 3, 5, 10+ years in order for you to be happy. From there, begin to document and shape your goals and ensure that they are S.M.A.R.T.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

For a goal to be specific, the more details, the better! You want your goals to include as much information as possible. For example “I want to save $25,000 for a down payment on a home in the next 4 years” is a goal that answers “how much?” “how long?” and “what for?”

Measurable goals should enable you to monitor your progress. How close are you to meeting your goal? How much more do you need to save?

Attainable goals are those that are realistic in nature. While we may all want to win the lottery or have a huge house or great new car – your goals should be set within reach. Perhaps maxing out your 401(k) contribution, taking advantage of a Roth IRA, or building up a sufficient emergency savings is a good place to start.

You want your goals to be relevant to your life. Your goals should reflect your and your family’s needs, values, and desires. Make sure your goals are meaningful to you or else you won’t be motivated to achieve them.

Timely goals are those that come with a deadline. Ask yourself how long it will take you to accomplish your goal. Working within a timeframe allows you to better track your progress.

When setting your financial goals, remember to write them down, prioritize them, and keep them in a place where you can see them often. Include your significant other or family in the goal setting process to make sure you’re all on the same page. Your goals will be the groundwork of any financial plan you create. Not only will having clear vision of what you hope to accomplish keep you on track, but you will be inspired to stay organized and turn your dreams into a reality.

Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP®, CDFA
Senior Financial Planner
San Diego, CA

Author: Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP®, CDFA

Mary Beth Storjohann is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). She holds her Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance with an emphasis in Financial Services from San Diego State University and is currently pursing a Master of Science in Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning in Colorado. Mary Beth’s mission is to deliver comprehensive financial solutions that help families and individuals realize their lifelong aspirations. Mary Beth’s experience as a CFP® professional provides an essential layer of depth in understanding the myriad of complex issues that clients face. Mary Beth is an active member of the San Diego Financial Planning Association, NexGen Community, and is leading the San Diego FPA’s Wounded Warrior Project which pairs Financial Planners with Wounded Warriors for pro bono financial counseling.

4 thoughts on “SETTING S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

  1. If someone is relatively new to this process, it can seem a bit daunting. The most tragic mistake you can make is to put this goal setting process off indefinitely! Any concerted progress I’ve made in my life is the direct result of the goals I’ve set and continuously worked toward. I also encourage everyone to keep their goals posted in front of them daily so that they can be reminded of them. And finally, it’s important to connect our goals to our personal vision and mission: our vision and mission is what excites us to continue to meet our goals.

  2. Pingback: ShanahS Streams of Income

  3. Pingback: Life is too short to waste Time. Make S-M-A-R-T Goals! « Tammy Rowland Coaching

  4. The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals: State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – “Execute this technique well” is a much better goal than “Don’t make this stupid mistake.” Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.

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