During this season, it’s only natural to start thinking of all the things you want to work on and accomplish when the calendar rolls over next week to a new year.  If you’re a Money-Guy Show listener, you know how to create a vision plan to do big things in 2015.

But you may still need a bit of guidance to endure you achieve success and meet all the goals you have for the new-year. While most New Year’s resolutions are set with the best of intentions, most of them are broken – or completely forgotten – by February.

If you want to make 2015 different, you need to make sure your goals are SMART.

What Are SMART Goals?

Here’s what we mean by SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

SMART goals enable you to create an intention and a plan of action to use as your road map to success. Using these guidelines, you can set resolutions you’ll actually remember and achieve.

Let’s take a closer look at what each of these elements means.

Making Goals Specific

Your goals need to be specific and detailed. There’s no question about what you want to accomplish — and there’s no question about when you actually accomplished it, either.

This means that your goal isn’t intangible or fluffy. You can clearly describe and understand it. If you can’t easily explain your goal to someone else, you may need to work on it until it’s more specific and tangible.

Struggling to get specific? Make your goal answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why. This should provide more structure and clarity.

Setting a Goal You Can Measure

You want to be able to measure your goal so you can track your progress and understand where you’re at, how far you’ve come, and what you still need to do in order to reach success.

And again, you want to be able to know when you’ve actually accomplished the goal. If you can’t measure your progress, how will you know if you’ve actually succeeded?

For example, you can’t measure a goal that says “build an emergency fund.” But you can measure a goal that says “save $5,000 in an emergency fund by December 2015.”

Creating an Action Plan around Your Goal

An actionable goal will be, well, something you can take action on. You’ll want to be able to map out a series of steps you need to take in order to achieve it.

Put pen to paper and write out what you need to do. Knowing what you should be working on to achieve your goal will help keep you focused and moving forward.

Going After Something Realistic

One of the most important elements of SMART goals is the “R” — setting a goal that’s realistic. It should be something that you can reasonably achieve.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stretch yourself or push your limits. You should push yourself to go above and beyond.

But it’s unreasonable to set a goal to “become a multi-millionaire by June” if you’re dealing with credit card debt today or “write the next great American novel next weekend” if you haven’t written a word since grade school.

There’s no reason you can’t write the next great American novel, but it will probably take you more than a few days (and quite a bit of practice). You can become a multi-millionaire, too, but first you need to repay your debt (at the very least).

Make sure your goals are big and challenging, but not unreasonable and verging on impossible.

Establishing a Time Line

Finally, SMART goals all have timelines — and deadlines. Establish when you’ll accomplish your goal by (or when you want to).

That may feel like too much pressure, but putting a due date on your goal means creating a sense of urgency. It also holds you accountable.

SMART goals can help you stay focused and on the right path to success. When you go to set resolutions for 2015, ensure they’re specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. Stay SMART in the New Year!

What financial goals will you be working toward in 2015?