Ask nearly anyone who is trying to rake in a load of cash online through some sort of entrepreneurial venture what their goal is and this person will inevitably tell you some variation of “I want to be rich.” Yes, we all want to be rich. We want to have nice toys and we don’t want to worry about finances. That much is clear. But what does this really mean?

I talked before about why goals are the bane of my existence. By setting a series of goals, there is the potential that you will fall into a sort of depressive stupor, because no matter where you are in life, it is never enough, is it? There may be a temporary sense of accomplishment when you meet a goal, but you will undoubtedly create a new goal in due time that sets the bar one or two notches higher. Many beginning bloggers aim to make a dollar a day in Adsense. Upon reaching this milestone, they set a new goal to make two dollars a day. Five dollars a day. A hundred dollars a day. No matter where you are, it is never enough, but goals are a necessary evil to push you further and to drive you to succeed.

Goals are not something that you should create on a whim. They should be thoughtful and purposeful. Back in high school, one of my teachers taught me that when you set a goal — regardless of whether it’s a financial goal, a personal goal, or whatever — that the goal be S.M.A.R.T. That is to say, it should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Briefly, “Specific” refers to creating a goal that is not broad or vague; “Measurable” refers creating a quantitative rather than a qualitative goal; “Attainable” means that you shouldn’t necessarily shoot for the stars; “Relevant” means that this goal should mean something in context, pointing towards a greater goal; and “Timely” forces you to place a timeline, because some day never comes.

setting a specific goal

Of these five elements, I personally feel that Specific and Measurable are the most important. Be precise in everything that you do. Asking yourself what you want is pretty much pointless. Telling yourself that you’re aiming for loads of cash is ultimately a load of crap. Instead, ask yourself what you want to accomplish financially in the next month. Ask yourself exactly how much money you want to earn in the next 30 days. And most importantly of all, ask yourself what steps you will need to take to achieve this goal.

Although I am talking in terms of money, the same principle can be applied in just about every aspect of your life, whether it be physical fitness, social skills, or trying to land a promotion at work. It’s also important that you don’t focus on comparing yourself to others, rather setting these goals by comparing yourself to yourself. Attempt to achieve a personal best and revel in your victory, rather than hitting a goal only to discover that the other guy has outperformed you.

Be specific in your goal-setting. Define and aim for the needle. Don’t be satisfied with targeting the haystack. It’s easier than you think.

needle in a haystack