How to Create SMART Financial Goals – Are They Attainable?

In this series on SMART goals, we’ve talked about being Specific about your financial goal and then making the financial goal Measurable.  Now we’ll talk about your goal being Attainable.

Let me preface by saying that I think a person, any person, is capable of doing many incredible things.  You may be truly amazed at what you can achieve if you earnestly put your mind and resources into reaching your goal.

But there are limits.

As positive as I want to be in helping you attain your goals you need to know that you still need to make a goal Attainable.

I think a big mistake we make with goals, and one of the main reasons why goals fail, is because we shoot for the moon with a goal we can’t reasonably achieve.  Then when we don’t reach our goal, or we find it’s too hard to work towards, we quit and tell ourselves it’s useless.

Ask yourself – “can I actually do this/is it possible?”

If you’ve made your goal specific and measurable it should help deciding whether you goal is attainable.

It’s OK if the goal seems slightly out of reach.  The point is you are working towards something.  Make a goal too easy to attain and you haven’t really changed anything about yourself, you haven’t grown.  Yes, goals can help you to be more of who you can be rather than who you have been.

Let’s look at debt.  You may have heard a person say they have a goal to get out of debt in a year.  That’s an awesome goal, but it may not be attainable.  Even when you make your goal specific and measurable you still need to reasonable be able to attain your goal.

Is what you are looking to achieve realistic?

The example we have been using is to eliminate a specific credit card debt.  Is the plan you have in place attainable?  Can you reasonably keep up with the amounts you need to save to pay off your credit card debt?  Have you considered everything that can happen that might throw you off course?  Will you be able to do it?

I don’t want to seem negative.  You just need to make sure what you are looking to do is really within your ability and means.

It’s possible you may need to break your goal down further or change how you measure your progress to make the goal attainable.  It may even take some time and experimentation to see what it takes to make your goal attainable.  You may need to tweak your goal and how you measure it after some time.  That’s OK.  The point is to attain your goal!

So as you set your goal, look at what your plan is and make sure it’s Attainable.


Next time we’ll look at Relevant.

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Published or updated December 11, 2014.


  1. Being goal oriented, I live this every day. To me everything is a goal and I try to make a game out it. That works for me.

  2. It’s easy to be put off by goals that seem to big to achieve – when you have a large dept it can seem just too big to do anything about. That can lead to you feelilng like it’s not worth starting.
    The key is to break it into small steps. Sometimes even tiny steps can help if you are having trouble getting motivated. Other times, the problem can be that you are focussing on a negative goal (e.g. I must get out of dept) instead of a positive goal (I will be in credit by Dec 31st).
    Negative goals tend to be hard to maintain. For more about that see my article on the difference between negative and positive goals here
    and good luck with yours!

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