I’m not a “New Year’s resolution” kind of guy. Never have been, never will be.
But I do have goals and expectations for each year. I’m a planner, a strategist. I can’t operate unless I map things out and I evaluate my progress constantly to see what I’m doing right… and wrong. Since we’re just over the halfway mark for 2018, I figured this was as good a time as ever for a little check in.
So far in 2018, I’ve:
- Moved out of my parents’ house (’bout time, kid)
- Left my first job/company since college for a new career path (and a raise, you caught me)
- Paid off $19k worth of student loan debt
- Paid down $2.5k worth of credit card debt
- Used a $10k balance transfer with 0% APR to help pay off the rest of my $37k student loan debt
I like it, but I would’ve liked to pay off more debt. You can never pay off enough of that stuff, I’m tellin’ ya.
So what about you? Are you on track to achieve all that you wanted to in 2018, whether you made a New Year’s resolution or not? (so 2005).
Evaluating Your Progress in 2018
Did you know that a study was done that says 92% of people who set goals for New Year’s never achieve them? If you’re one of those people (don’t lie – you probably are), you’re going about this whole ‘goal setting’ thing the wrong way. Do you know how to evaluate your goals?
Let’s get you from dreamer to achiever, starting at square one – your goals.
How to evaluate your goals
People who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve those goals. Crazy, right? It’s amazing how taking thoughts from your mind and bringing them into the world on paper can have such an impact. You know what would really be something, though? Not just writing down any goal, but SMART goals.
SMART goals are:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
Let’s compare a typical (bad) goal with a SMART goal.
Bad Goal Example: “In 2018, I want to advance my career.”
Bad Goal Analysis: While this goal has great intentions, it just doesn’t get the job done.
S – Is it specific? Not really. What does advancing your career mean to you? A raise, a job change? And how much of a raise? What job do you want? Fail.
M – See above. Advancing your career is far too subjective to be able to measure this at the end of the year. Fail.
A – I’m sure you can advance your career in one year, but if your goal isn’t specific or measurable, how do you know when you achieved it? Fail.
R – Advancing your career is wonderful, so you would get points for relevancy. Pass.
T – The goal does say “in 2018,” so that works as well. Pass.
Ouch. Only passing on 2/5 metrics is 40% – a failing grade by any measure (pun intended). Now let’s look at a SMART goal.
Awesome Goal Example: “By the end of 2018, I want to be promoted to Senior Business Analyst and get a pay raise of 15%.”
Awesome Goal Analysis: Can you feel the difference? Oh yeah, baby. Let’s dig deeper.
S – When you read this goal, you know exactly what the person wants and what they’re striving for. Pass.
M – Not only does this goal tell you the job they want, but it adds numbers to the mix as well. You can measure those things! Pass.
A – Assuming this person has an applicable career to start with, this fits the bill. Pass.
R – Jobs and money. Pretty relevant stuff. We’re good here. Pass.
T – “By the end of 2018” is time-bound. Pass.
Doesn’t that feel better? Now that we know how to make proper goals, let’s dive deeper on tracking your progress and working towards achievement.
What tangible progress have you made?
Now that you’ll only be making SMART goals from now on, you’ll be able to compare your results with your desired outcomes as you go. The most important part is that you stay honest with yourself here. Are you really making progress, or are you just spinning your wheels?
For example, I was working towards a 20% raise this year, and speaking with my manager about my career development was a great step in the right direction. But I didn’t actually ask about the raise specifically, and thus, I never found out how likely it was. Was I really making tangible progress?
No. No I wasn’t.
Moral victories are great and sometimes you need very, very small wins to build up to bigger ones. However, you can’t let yourself get too caught up in thinking that any action is helping you achieve your goals. This ‘goal’ thing is a results-based business!
How do you feel about your progress and strategies?
It’s up for you to decide how often you evaluate everything. If you do it too often, you can fall victim to analysis paralysis (over-thinking). If you don’t do it enough, you lose out on opportunities to improve.
When you do evaluate, write down exactly how you feel about the progress you’ve made and the strategies you’re using.
- What has worked? Why?
- What hasn’t worked? Why?
What adjustments do you need to make?
Here is where you tie it all together to figure out your next course of action.
For me, my initial conversations with my manager weren’t working, so I stated my desire to be promoted (another one of my goals). I found out that the promotion was likely, but it might not be until next year. I also found out that the pay I wanted was unlikely as well.
In my situation, I didn’t necessarily need to achieve my goals at the company I was working at, so I pursued jobs at new companies more aggressively than I had before. That adjustment gave me the flexibility I needed to achieve my goal.
Now it’s your turn. What goals did you set for yourself in 2018? Are they SMART goals? What progress have you made? What adjustments do you need to make? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
Author: Josh Ramos
After earning an undergraduate degree in Economics and a Master of Arts in Management at Wake Forest University, Josh has paid off over $130k in student loan debt in 4 years. By founding Home at 30, Josh wants to help you make the most of college, build a successful career, and achieve financial independence.