Recognize and Eliminate Distractions
One of the things that’s critical when it comes to achieving SMART goals is just plain sticking to the goal until it is complete. It sounds simple, but it can be super-easy to become sidetracked without even realizing it.
Suppose you want to go back to school, and the first semester’s tuition is $4000. You’ve set a goal to have that money saved up before the tuition is due, but things seem to come up. Maybe you get invited on a weekend trip, so you evaluate your finances and decide that you’ll take the trip. Next, you see a great sale on some other item that you’ve wanted for a long time, and you make a separate decision on that.
Taken by themselves, the amounts you decide to spend might not add up to much, but together they make it difficult for you to reach your goal of saving up tuition.
Written out like this, it probably seems obvious that if you want to buy (or do) one thing, you can’t buy (or do) a variety of other things too if you have limited resources (such as money, time, or energy.)
Consider the broader impact
But most of us don’t think that way. We think about one thing at a time as it comes up. We don’t consider the broader impact on our primary goal in enough (or sometimes any) detail.
That was the case with me for many years in my business. I constantly had so many things that I wanted to work on, and I spent my time flitting from idea to idea without actually finishing any of them. The result was that I didn’t have enough time or energy to bring the idea that was most likely to succeed to fruition. Focusing on one thing at a time has made a huge difference.
It’s become a matter of learning to recognize and eliminate distractions. For me distractions look like good ideas, so I’ve grown to learn that an idea (even a good one) is often a distraction. I eliminate the distraction by writing down the idea and promising myself that I’ll take another look at it someday.
Focusing your money
The same kind of thing can work with monetary goals. If you’ve got one primary goal, when something else comes up that you’re considering spending money on, ask yourself if spending that money will directly advance your primary goal. If the answer is no, write down the item that you want to spend the money on, and promise yourself that you’ll come back to the idea once you achieve your goal.
As a side benefit, you’ll probably find yourself reaching your goal even faster so that you can get started on the next goal.