January is one of my favorite times of the year. I usually get gloomy during the holidays but January always manages to pull me out of my funk. A fresh new start for goals I want to complete, life changes I want to make and a new planner with cute pens to organize my life. What? A girl has gotta have her Erin Condren planner, what can I say.
This year, I wanted to share tips that I’m using to help ensure my 2015 goals come to fruition and make this the most successful year yet. By using the SMART technique I’m already having more progress then I had anticipated.
Have you ever heard of SMART Goals before? Up until two years ago, I hadn’t. At first, I saw it during my initial training for my current organization. I may or may not have been paying attention at first but afterwards, I thought it was actually a good concept. What exactly does SMART stand for?
- Specific- Make your goal as specific as you can. Saying I want to lose 30lbs is a great goal, especially if it will benefit your health like most weight loss usually does. But, how are you going to get there? “I want to lose 30lbs by eating more veggies and walking 10,000 steps a day” is definitely more specific. And it may actually be one of my goals so no judging. 🙂 Being as specific as possible will give you enough details to help you come up with a valuable plan to achieve your goal.
Measurable- Can I measure my goal in outcomes? A goal like losing weight is definitely measurable because either the scale is lower or it isn’t. Counting your steps along with your veggie intake is also something that can be measured.
Achievable- Is this goal something you can achieve? Big goals definitely keep us going and I am one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet. But it’s sometimes best to make sure your goal is something that can be achieved within a reasonable amount of time to ensure your momentum will stay until the goal is complete. What reasonable steps can you take to achieve your goal in a timely manner?
Realistic- Is your goal something that is realistic for you? As much as we may feel the need for a stretch goal, it’s also important to make sure our goal is something that can be realistically completed for our current stage in life. This doesn’t mean be negative at all but optimistic about where you are and what you can accomplish. Losing weight is a realistic goal and so is developing healthy habits. But losing 50 instead of 30lbs is something that definitely needs to be looked at realistic. As much as it’s important to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone, it’s still important not to set ourselves up for failure.
Time Bound- Goals are dreams with deadlines. Sure it would be great to lose weight or write that book you’ve been putting off. Taking up a new hobby sounds great! So does spending time with people you care about. Okay, great. Let’s give that goal a timeline. As for losing weight, you may say “This month, I will lose three lbs.” By giving it a deadline, you now know you have exactly one month to achieve this task. Giving yourself a deadline allows you to utilize your time better to align with your goals and priorities. Last year I decided to cancel my cable subscription in order to concentrate on my upcoming school year and read more. I was not only able to finish 68 books this year but I also made the Deans list after my first semester back at school in four years. Prioritizing your time towards your goals really helps and makes them achievable.
What technique do you currently use for starting ( and finishing) goals. Stay tuned for part two in my series in goal setting where I provide a few more tips and suggestions into making 2015 your year!
On October 20th, I embarked on a 60 day no spend challenge with Janine of My Pennies My Thoughts & Sofia from Caviar & Quarters to help get my mindless spending under control before the new year and save as much as possible to move into my new apartment. Along with saving $1,200 for my apartment, I also wanted to save an additional $400 for a retainer I had initially assumed I’d be getting at the end of December. Total to save? $1,600. And after spending my Christmas Break with H on the east coast, I’m finally ready to share!
Total saved? $1605, which means that I passed my exceeded my savings goal by an extra $5. Woot woot! This was definitely no easy task for me for various reasons.
- Christmas! Christmas comes every year and this was no exception. Every year I take an annual girls trip to LA, specifically Universal Studios for Grinchmas. I already had my pass paid for because I bought an annual pass last year so all I had to worry about was food and gas, easy enough for me! I also had to buy gifts for H and a few small things for people I work with, including my participation in a Secret Santa at school.
Health: I was attacked by a spider ( eep!) which isn’t anything new since I’ve been getting bite all summer by creepy crawlers due to the crazy monsoon weather we had. And, I have the worst reactions to any kind of bug bite. I swell and pop Benadryl and use ice packs. But, I had an even worse reaction when I was bite by something in November which landed me in urgent care. I also ended up needing ANOTHER root canal. I had one back in August and needed another one. My dentist thinks I may have had trauma when I was younger but since I have no one to ask, I’ll just have to believe him. The root canal set me back $630 and I’ll need a cap later this year. I also needed to refill my expensive asthma meds and pay for my annual checkup.
Stress related to school: Right before Thanksgiving, I had a breakdown. Balancing work and school full-time left me in a state of overwhelming exhaustion and I cried for hours in my room. Between finding out I needed a root canal, not getting enough sleep and running myself into the ground, I couldn’t take anymore. I’m only human like everyone else and doing everything on my own is extremely hard sometimes.
Anxiety and depression don’t help at all and even though I am doing a lot better than I ever have before in regards to my mental health, sometimes I feel I still have so much left to do. And since money is such an emotional part of my being, it’s easy to throw money at problems in hopes they’ll go away. Towards the end of the semester, I had no problem buying dinner for myself so I had one less thing to worry about. I didn’t have the problem of worry about dinner anymore but I had less to save as a result.
This challenge helped me realize that I have come very far in regards to some areas of my financial journey. In the past, I had a shopping addiction. I tried to fill things I was missing in my life with possessions and although I am still drawn to shiny things, especially Michael Kors, I no longer spend money I don’t have on belongings which is a huge leap for me. I don’t go impulse shopping and I work really hard to keep my clutter at bay. By not allowing anything beautiful and useful in my home, I tend not to buy things just because.
I’ve also made huge strides by cooking at home and from scratch for the past two years. I started religiously meal planning in 2008 along with packing my lunches but still relied heavily on prepared and packaged meals to get me through the week. Now, I cook everything from a recipe and it tastes 100 times better than stuff from a can or the freezer. However, I still eat out too much for my liking. It’s so easy to meet a friend and catch up over lunch or dinner. It’s easy to order take out when it’s just you and you can’t be bothered to cook. And I’ll admit sometimes, I’m either craving it or they just make it better! My Starbucks habit is a lot better and I have an efficient system with my Keruig but I still crave fancy designer lattes like no ones business.
Going forward, I’ll be tracking my daily spending to help stay on track with my budget. I am moving into my first apartment by myself soon and will be 100% responsible for everything. It’s a huge step for me since I’ve never lived alone and I want to save as much as I can, even after the move in is complete. I want my spending to align with my values and although I enjoy a good meal and fancy coffee, my values are security, making sure my education is on track and making my new digs into the home I’ve never had.