It takes a lot of planning to get to retirement. We have to set financial goals. It’s also possible that we set goals about where we want to live, having an encore career, and hobbies we want to pursue. The good news is we know how to do this because we often have to set goals, monitor our progress, and work toward accomplishing those goals.
But when we retire, goal setting doesn’t stop.
We’re going to have small goals, like getting regular exercise. If you’re in Corporate America right now, you don’t even think about all the steps you’re getting walking from one meeting to the next. In retirement, you have to think about getting in steps or closing those circles. Or staying hydrated. Again, when you’re working, you probably always have a cup of coffee or a bottled water nearby. Once you retire, you might need some prompts to get enough liquids.
We also have to think about financial planning. In retirement, I imagine living on a budget different than I do today. I’ll have to think about how much I can spend. Are my investments creating the kind of income that I expected? And of course, there’s Social Security. Can I rely upon it as an income source or supplement?
In addition, I might want to have unretirement goals like volunteering on boards, traveling to some place I’ve always dreamed of, and creating a little side hustle to earn a few dollars. All of these things involve goal setting. So, because we don’t get to ever stop setting goals, it’s a good idea to learn a good goal-setting model. One that you can always use. For me, that’s S.M.A.R.T.
SMART is an acronym used in project management. It was coined by George T. Doran in 1981.
Specific represents exactly what you would like to accomplish. Think of it as the who, what, where, when, which and why of the goal.
Measurable answers the question of how success is measured.
Actionable (also seen as Achievable, Attainable) outlines the steps it will take to complete the goal.
Responsible (some versions use Realistic or Relevant) identifies the people needed to reach this goal,
Time-bound (or Trackable) establishes the time frame to achieve the goal.
I have to tell you that I learned about SMART in the worst way possible. Years ago, I worked for a company that, every time something went wrong, our company president wanted a meeting to discuss how we were going to fix the problem. Afterward, we had to create something called “a SMART plan” explaining the steps we were going to take. Sad to say, we developed a lot of SMART plans. I thought it was some sort of punishment.
It wasn’t until I started studying for my human resources certification that I learned SMART plans have been around for many years and weren’t some dreamt up form of torture from senior leadership. Over the years, I’ve found the SMART acronym easy to remember, so I mold it for setting goals and creating plans. Here are the questions that I ask when using SMART:
- What are we going to do? (Specific)
- How will we measure our success? (Measurable)
- What are the steps that will help us attain our goal? (Attainable)
- Who will be responsible for each step? (Responsible)
- When will the task be completed? (Timely)
I know that goal setting and plans can sometimes be the bane of our existence. Many organizations don’t know how to properly set goals and monitor their progress towards those goals. Unfortunately, goal setting and planning don’t end when we retire. So, it’s time to find a process that we can embrace. Because we will want to use it for a long time.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby on the streets of Chicago, IL