Andrew Harmon



How to Achieve the Goals You Set for 2013

by: Jennifer S. Matthews

There is often excitement at the start of each year because many people eagerly anticipate what they plan on accomplishing and/or doing differently. However, many people fall off track as early as February. To keep your goals and plans on track, follow these simple steps.  

The first step is to write down exactly what you plan on accomplishing. Biblical scholars know there is a directive to “write the vision and make it plain”. The medical community knows that the majority of people are visual, meaning they respond better to what they see more so than any other communications mechanism. 

When writing your goals and plans, it is important to follow the SMART rule. The acronym SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time bound. The goals and plans you write must be very Specific to help you focus on what you want. Measurable simply means there is a way to know when you have reached your desired results. An achievable goal or plan is within your realm of capability, even if you currently do not have all the knowledge or resources needed. Your goals and/or plans should be Realistic/Relevant to your overall desired outcome. Finally, you should include a Time (bound) for completion so that you don’t have forever to finish. 

Examples of SMART goals include:

  • I will lose 20 pounds by May 31, 2013
  • I will pay off my $2,000 Visa credit card balance by August 1, 2013
  • I will increase my business revenue by $1,000 per month by June 30, 2013
  • I will return to college in September 2013 and take two classes

These goals meet the definition of each component of a SMART goal. Many people often get this far with their goals in their minds, and even occasionally writing them down. The next two steps are the difference between achieving goals and not achieving goals! 

Once you have your SMART goals and/or plan written down, break it down (in writing) into the Steps you need to take to complete your goal or plan. Steps are what need to be done next to start you on your way. If your goal or plan is not complex, it may have 3 – 5 Steps. However, if your goal or plan is very involved, there may be more Steps involved.  

Here’s the kicker…break each Step down into Tasks that you need to complete or delegate to someone. Again, the number of Tasks under each step will vary based upon how complex your goal or plan is. Once you have your Tasks written under each step, your Tasks become your focal point – almost like a daily “to do” list.


Here are examples that continue from above:

  • I will lose 20 pounds by May 31, 2013 (this is 5 months times 4 weeks in each month, or one (1) pound each week)

A.    Join a gym by January 15th

A – 1. Research 3 convenient gyms

A – 2. Visit each gym

A – 3. Inquire about free trial memberships

A – 4. Select a gym and schedule workouts 3x each week 

B.     Change my eating habits

B – 1. Do an internet search for low calorie meals that are ready in 20 minutes or less (or diabetic, low carb, etc.)

B – 2. Make a list of healthy snacks

B – 3. Grocery shop each week for recipe items and snacks


§  I will pay off my $2,000 Visa credit card balance by August 1, 2013 (6 full months)

A.    I will create $1,200 by redirecting $200 of current eating out expenses each month

A – 1.  Track spending daily in a pocket-size notebook

A – 2.  Take breakfast and lunch to work 4 days each week, which is a savings of $12 per day ($4 breakfast and $8 lunch) four days each week for 6 months. I commit to paying an extra $96 on my Visa bill every payday ($12 times 4 days each week times 2 weeks per pay period equals $96). At the end of 6 months, this is a total of $1,152 toward the $2,000. 

B.     Swap our monthly family movie night with RedBox™ movies

B – 1. On the day I pick up the movie, I will used the money saved to make an extra Visa payment. Four movie tickets are usually $36 plus $20 at the concession stand. I’ll spend $3 on RedBox™ and $5 on snacks for a total of $8. I will make an extra Visa payment of $48 ($56 - $8) once a month (x6 months) for a total of $288. 

C.     Yard sale

C – 1. Box up all items that I can sell

C – 2. Have the kids clean out and declutter to come up with items to sell

C – 3. Select a date and advertise the yard sale 

As you focus on and then complete each Task, you will automatically complete each Step. Once your Steps are complete, you will automatically achieve your goals and/or plan!   

This column is about finances, and most goals and plans have a financial component. Therefore, it is important for each of us to start properly creating goals and plans to include the Steps and Tasks that must be completed to acquire the necessary finances. There’s no better time than the start of a New Year to put new winning measures in place! Here’s to all of your successes in 2013!

About the Author: Jennifer S. Matthews is an award-winning author, motivational speaker, and is trained as a financial coach. She is the author of the award-winning book 12 Ways to Put Money in Your Pocket Every Month Without A Part Time Job. The book shows readers how to create hundreds of dollars in cash every month from within their existing income. Visit Jennifer online at and sign up for her newsletter. You can also purchase her book, take advantage of free downloads, and much more.

© 2012 Creating Financial Literacy, LLC



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