While writing my book “Get There,” which celebrates its first anniversary this fall, I incorporated a new goal-setting method that has helped me to take my best next steps. Most people have heard of SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. However, I always felt some aspects were missing that would make the process more effective and meaningful. Now I encourage people to create MAPS (measurable, actionable, personal, specific) to get them where they want to go next. Follow this process to set up your next goal:
You need a way to know that you’re progressing toward your dream. Vague financial goals such as “Save more money” don’t help because they’re not definable or measurable, and you don’t know when you’ve achieved them. “Save $10,000,” on the other hand, is reasonable, achievable and measurable. You know when you’re getting closer, and once you achieve it, you can take a moment to celebrate that small win before compounding the success by moving toward your next goal. Imagine how motivating it would feel if you achieved the goal to “Pay off $20,000 in credit card debt” instead of simply “Pay down debt.” You’d have the energy to keep going and pay off the next segment of debt you have.
Once you’ve set a measurable goal, it’s important to know that you can achieve it and have an effect on the outcome. That’s why I added “actionable” to MAPS — you must be able to take an action step to move yourself toward your goal. That means breaking it down into the smallest possible steps you can do that will start you in the right direction. If the goal is to increase your 401k funding each year, for instance, it’s important to take the first step by opening the account. People often worry about how much to save and what percentage is “correct,” but ultimately, you first need to open the account. Then start by putting in 2 percent and see how you feel. Nothing is forever, and you can increase or decrease your percentage as you go. But first, you must start.
The emotional tie to a goal is often what keeps you going and prevents you from giving up. This “personal” aspect is often missing from both personal and financial goals, but I believe it’s one of the most important parts to include. When people say that one of their goals is “Buying a vacation house,” for instance, I always ask them for the personal reasons behind that. If it’s simply to have one or to take a vacation occasionally, they often don’t have enough motivation to save up the money or take the action. If they say they want to buy a vacation home in a specific town where their family can gather more often for holidays, though, they’re more likely to achieve it so they can see their kids or grandkids more often. The emotion creates a vision for their future life of being closer to family, gathering in the kitchen, and spending time together.
Most of all, goals must be specific to fit the criteria of measurable, actionable and personal. Plenty of people have told me they’ve written down the goal of “Be better with money,” but they admit they have no idea what that means. It could mean saving more, spending less, investing more, or earning more, which all have their own measurable, actionable and personal elements. If you feel more confident as a person when you have $50,000 in the bank, for instance, then maybe your specific goal should be getting back to having that much in the bank. Then you’ll feel better about yourself and the choices you’re making in other areas of your life. Once you make that decision and nail down the specifics, everything else falls into place — and it’s easier to take your next step.
read more at http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/ by Ken Kladouris, CommunityVoice