At the end of the SMART acronym for goal setting is timed for completion. Timely goals have dates in mind for achievement. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, put it best: “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” If you don’t have a timeline for achieving your goals, you may not get to work right away. It will always seem to be “sometime in the future,” and of course we all know that tomorrow never comes. This is also a reason to have a variety of short- and long-term goals. You can track how you’re doing frequently instead of making a set of goals and then just forgetting about them.
If you set goals for the week, month, quarter, and year, then you have a timeline to completion. It becomes trickier to set longer-term goals and put deadlines on them. For instance:
- I want to pay off my mortgage.
- I want to spend a month in Hawaii.
- I want to retire early.
These are all great goals, but with no timeline to keep you on track, your chances of succeeding are low. In the case of the mortgage, you can succeed anyway by making payments on time every month until the 30-year term is up. If you want to spend that month in Hawaii, put it in your life plan. Defining what you mean by “early” will help you reach retirement that much faster. Here are some reframed goals with timelines:
- I will pay off my mortgage 10 years early (and then outline the subgoals that will make this happen)
- I will spend a month in Hawaii for my 20th wedding anniversary.
- I will retire at age 55. (Specify here what you mean by “retire”—just work part-time? Volunteer? Do nothing whatsoever?)
Review your list of goals and put a timeline for each of them!
If you’ve followed the last several posts from this blog, you’ve learned how to dream up the future you want, remind yourself of your goals with visuals, and shape your dreams by setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed) goals. Your success is now only a matter of your effort!