Making SMART Goals for a Better Life

With 2020 about to pass over my time zone in just a few hours, I'm reflecting once more on what I've accomplished in 2019 and thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2020. Like plenty of other people, I've made some pretty lofty goals in the past that were hard to stick to past a month or two. I'll be trying something different this time by making "SMART" goals.

A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. I think framing each goal with those criteria will have much better payoff than making generic goals like "get healthier" and "be better with finances".

Without further ado, here are my top 3 goals for 2020 elaborated into SMART framework:
  1. Lose weight. I'm going to try to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week leading up to an IT conference and my birthday in September. Of course, losing 2 pounds per week is ideal, but even 1 pound a week is progress.
  2. Drink less alcohol. I'm going to limit myself to 2 drinks per night, and only drink 3 or fewer nights per week. This goal is actually going to help with #1 and #3, so that's a bonus!
  3. Improve my personal finances. The first 2-3 months of the new year will be spent tackling what little is left of my credit card debt. After that, if I adhere to my budget well enough, I should be able to save up to 50% of my take-home pay each month and direct it into savings and investments.
I've set my goals up primarily so that they don't feel like chores to achieve. I could feasibly pay off all of my credit card debt in January, but giving myself through March to do so lessens the burden. In the second half of 2019 I worked to cut down on drinking alcohol, which after a few months gave me a good idea of how much more I could cut back and still enjoy fancy cocktails and wine. Weight's always been a difficult topic for me, but I started an accountability group and most people have similar goals. So this year, my weight goal has some social strings attached, which is a powerful motivator. I don't want to let down my accountability buddies!

I'm not sure that I actually have more than 3 big goals for 2020, but the SMART framework will definitely help if I think of more things I want to achieve.