How to Create SMART Financial Goals – Be Specific

It’s that time of the year where people decide to start fresh and make new goals (many of which are financial goals). But did you know that according to a 2007 survey by British psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88% of resolutions end in failure?  We tend to try and do too much with little willpower to achieve our resolutions.

One way we can help ourselves to success in our resolutions is to make them S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Today, let’s focus on Specific.

To achieve your goal, it helps to make it specific.  Many times, we make our goals too general, which makes a goal difficult to follow through on.

How many times have you heard a goal like “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to get out of debt” or “I’m going to take control of my finances?”

These just don’t work!  No, you need to make your goal specific to give you a concrete goal to go after.  You need to know exactly what it is you are trying to achieve.

Be as specific as you can when you create your goal.  Write down what it is that you want to do.  Tell your friends about it and have them help keep you accountable.

Think of a goal like “I am going to get out of debt.”  For most, we have more than one type of debt.  We have credit cards, student loans, car loans, home mortgages, second home mortgages… It’s too much to tackle all at once.  And what happens when we fail?  We go back to the way we were before the resolution but now we’re disheartened.  We feel beat down, thinking we can’t do it.

So break the goal down and make it specific.

Want to get out of debt?  Pick what kind of debt you want to attack.  Let’s say credit card debt.  Now we’re getting better.

But how many of us have more than one credit card?  Yup, a lot of us.  Let’s get more specific.  Pick one particular card that you are going to eliminate the debt on.  Other cards are other goals that you can look at once you have achieved your first, specific goal.

Can you see how this can help your confidence and help you achieve your goal? Picking even the smallest debt balance and paying it off can give you the courage to move on, knowing that it IS possible to achieve your goal.

So as you make your resolutions, make sure you make it specific!  Ask yourself exactly what you want to achieve and how you will go about achieving it.


Tomorrow we’ll work on the next step – Measurable.

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Published or updated December 11, 2014.


  1. I am a big SMART Goals fan! I create a daily check list to help me achieve the goal and monitor it often.

  2. Love the SMART philosophy, thanks for the reminder.

  3. Love the acronym…..concise and informative.

  4. I love the specific goal but sometimes it is hard to achieve a specific goal.

    • If not specific then how? Looking to achieve a more general goal is difficult as you don’t have specific points to shoot for; you don’t have definition.

  5. Lovely Leverage says:

    Hi Craig,

    This Specific part is great. I can’t wait for the other ones. Your tip really helped me to set my plans for this year. Thumbs up.

    • Gad to hear this helps and I hope you read the rest of the series as well.

      Do you have any specific goals you are shooting for?

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