By: Revanche

No S.M.A.R.T. goals in 2008

December 8, 2008

As we approach year’s end, my mind is drawn irrevocably into evaluation mode and I assess how I’ve done this year and what methods worked or didn’t work for me. I like to work through this stage before the holidays so that I can create a new plan for the following year. As I grow as a pf blogger and budgeter, I’m learning and sharing what I learn as best I can.

One of the basic tenets of personal finance is that setting goals is critical to growth. The smart money says that setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals is the best way to achieve your aims. I’m not sayin’ what it was, but SMART money my money wasn’t.

I’ve failed miserably at setting and achieving SMART goals this year. Psh, there was a time I quit setting goals entirely. When I admitted that, there was a moment of guilt for being so disorganized, or even unmotivated. Because that’s what it was, right? If you’re not even willing to set a goal (and let’s face it, I wasn’t trying) then clearly there’s no motivation.

You know what, though? That wasn’t true. Despite all my lofty goals from the end of 2007 that I didn’t actually accomplish, like buying a house, or investing, or saving half my salary, I still made some progress this year. No, it wasn’t Specifically what I had in mind, I had trouble Measuring it sometimes, other times it seemed downright impossible (A) or crazy (R), and nothing happened quickly or in a Timely manner. But if you look at the whole picture, it’s a different story than just a failure to achieve. (And if the markets were kinder, it might even be rosier than that. But never mind them.)

See: a year in review

Despite a few challenges……..

It’s been a tumultuous year to say the least, even discounting the whole economic meltdown, but it hasn’t been all bad.

I’m seeing that the smart way isn’t the only way, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. All this time I didn’t understand how money can be such an emotional issue, or why people would choose the psychologically satisfying rather than mathematically efficient method of getting out of debt, or growing an income. Looks like I was wrong!

If I had insisted on following just the straight and narrow road by setting strict goals and assigning Passes or Fails, I would have felt terrible about it. It was difficult enough to K.I.T. (keep it together) well enough to focus on the big picture, and take little steps without calling myself a failure 6 out of 7 times a month.

A comparison of my finances from last year against this year shows an increase of about 20%; keeping myself on a looser leash worked out pretty well. You could rightfully point out that it’s not that significant because I didn’t start out with that much. That’s true, but I am ending the year on a relatively healthy note and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Having stuck to the basic principles of reducing expenses, increasing income where possible, and maximizing how far each dollar went, we did pretty ok this year.

Editor’s Note: Flexo posted about Taking Control of Your Finances today, and he has a few other good reasons SMART goals might not be applicable to your situation.

3 Responses to “No S.M.A.R.T. goals in 2008”

  1. I suppose saying “Fail” every month is a pretty ineffective goal setting record too. I did well the month my first goal was “Survive”….

    I don’t really like SMART goals, but I guess I’m kind of opposed to cheesy acronyms in the first place.

    Good job this year, you are right to be thankful for your successes.

  2. I don’t go in for the SMART goals, but that’s because generally I set goals I think I can meet without Herculian effort.

    I’m having trouble thinking of goals for 2009, mainly because I have no idea what’s going to happen next year! I might get laid of, I’m getting married, I want to move, etc. Too much to think about!

  3. Revanche says:

    stackingpennies: “Surviving” is nothing to pooh-pooh, though. ’tis important! 🙂

    I’m going to mark the fact that I’ve survived to the end of another year as a Pass as well.

    paranoidasteroid: I’m in the same boat for next year, minus the wedding part. It’s a bit overwhelming, still. Maybe once we break for the holidays, we’ll be in moods more conducive to goal setting.

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