S.M.A.R.T. Fall Resolutions That Can Change Your Life

Despite many people not being aware of it, there are actually two times each year that we are most likely to commit to lifestyle changes. Those times are, predictably, January, and as you may have guessed, fall. Think about it, when does the new school year start? And how many of us grew up marking our years by school years? I’m going to go out on a limb and say most of us. With that in mind, let’s all rejoice in the fact that the kiddos are back in school, the leaves are starting their transformation, pumpkin spice is atop all the edible things, and it’s time to engage in another lifestyle change you have been contemplating for some time. 

Summer Fades, Leaves Undergo A Colorful Execution, And You Make A New Fall Resolution!

 

hot chocolate

A yummy hot chocolate from last fall.

When I was a kid I used to vow to be a stellar student at the start of each new school year. I would always be equipped with the latest school trends and fresh, new supplies to mark the commencement. Sadly, my early fall resolutions didn’t amount to much success. I would typically start off strong and then fade into familiar routines a few weeks into the new school year. As I got older, this changed. I was able to set my sights on certain achievements for my academic career, and eventually achieve them! These achievements have continued throughout my adulthood by making smarter resolutions.

Fall Is A Time For Change

 

Horseback riding in Stowe, VT. Fall 2015.

Obviously, January is the time of year that most people sit down and make resolutions to improve their lives, whether it be emotional, physical, or financial. Interestingly, it has been proven that there is a second time of year when people do the exact same thing. And that time of year is upon us. There is nothing stopping you from making a fall resolution except, well, you.

Around these parts we truly do worship the change of seasons. And the season we worship most of all is fall. There’s nothing quite like experiencing crisp temperatures, the brilliant colors that adorn the landscape, and pumpkin spice on everything nice. But we don’t just enjoy fall fluff, we also treat fall as a time for change in our own lives. We make fall resolutions to improve our lifestyle. This fall we plan on making several resolutions relating to our future goal of financial independence. But this time, we’re making making resolutions with a twist. We’re not just going to make resolutions willy-nilly. This time, we’re making S.M.A.R.T. fall resolutions. Not sure what that is? Well, read on my frugal friends.

S.M.A.R.T. Fall Resolutions

 

I’ve learned many things during my time spent in the corporate world. One of which is the importance of making smart goals – or more appropriately, S.M.A.R.T. goals.

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-bound

Typically, these goals are used on performance development plans as a tool to help employees and their bosses gauge their successes throughout the year. It usually goes something like this, at the beginning of the year, the employee will draft a series of SMART goals and include them on their performance plan. At the end of the year, employees sit down with their bosses and discuss their achievements as agreed upon at the start of the year. Based on performance, the employee receives a rating and a pay increase correlated to their achievements. Despite this being a widely used corporate tool to measure success, it is easily adaptable to personal resolutions as well.

Dissecting SMART Goals

 

father and daughter

Walking downtown. Fall 2014.

Before you embark on creating a SMART fall resolution, let’s dissect the parts and make sure you’re making the right resolution for your life. For the purposes of this quick exercise, let’s assume your fall resolution is to Save More Money. You can see how this is kinda loosey-goosey and has a high potential for failure. Instead, let’s make this a SMART fall resolution that has a high probability of success. See below!

  1. Specific:  Instead of saying you want to save more money, be more specific as to the purpose of the saved money.
  2. Measurable:  Ensure your goal is measurable by stating at least 1 or 2 indicators that will help determine whether or not the goal has been reached.
  3. Achievable: The goal should be challenging without being defeating.
  4. Results-focused:  State the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal.
  5. Time-bound: Establish a completion date that creates a practical sense of urgency.

Okay, now, let’s re-write our original loosey-goosey resolution as a SMART resolution! See below!

S.M.A.R.T. Resolution:

Establish an emergency fund by February 15th of next year. The fund will have a minimum of $10,000 placed into a money market account and will alleviate the anxiety of unexpected expenses. In order to achieve this goal, several items will be cut from the monthly budget, including cable, dining out, and new clothes. A minimum of $800/month will added to the existing emergency fund to create a minimum balance of $10,000 by February 15th of next year.  

Planning Your Fall Resolution Execution

 

Mad Money Cat

Mad Money Cat has a resolution to rule Kittenfell. #shhh

Now, we all know that making a fall resolution means absolutely nothing without a little follow through. Anyone can make plans and resolve to change their life, it’s a completely different ballgame to actually execute a resolution. After you have confidently chosen the right resolution for you and/or your family, the next step is to commit to achievement.

First of all, make sure you have detailed your resolution in the form of a SMART resolution. This means putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Next, it’s absolutely vital to hold yourself accountable. This can be achieved by telling family or friends about your resolution. Family and friends are often eager to help us stay on task.

Finally, realize that nothing is set in stone. Make sure you regularly check in to keep a pulse on your progress. If you notice that your progress is waning or you’re not going to meet your resolution timeline, perhaps you need to make a few adjustments. It’s entirely possible you are doing everything you set out to do yet you’re still falling short of your goal. If this is the case, allow yourself some wiggle room, re-visit your resolution and make the necessary adjustments. With a SMART fall resolution and a little determination, you just might not need to make any new year’s resolutions 😉

Let’s hear your thoughts on SMART fall resolutions. What have you set your sights on achieving?

6 comments… add one
  • Miss Mazuma Sep 21, 2017, 10:20 am

    I have a post in the hopper about this very thing! I don’t do my resolutions because of fall, per se, but because my birthday happens to be in September. With every birthday I make new goals to happen before the next. I also do all my medical appointments, dentist, and any other yearly obligation so I am renewed for the new year. I like your idea for the SMART Resolution. Everyone looks forward to Spring Cleaning, why not through some love Fall’s way?!

    • Mad Money Monster Sep 21, 2017, 4:02 pm

      Happy Birthday! My birthday is also in September 🙂 I seem to be in perpetual alignment with each new school year, so I love making resolutions at the same time.

      I love your idea of making all your appointments the month of your bday. I might need to incorporate that trick into my life!

  • Dads Dollars Debts Sep 20, 2017, 10:38 am

    This is my second year in Northern California and if the skies were not getting darker earlier, I would not even know it was fall. Strange how different the seasons play out here versus the SouthEast US.

    Great plan for the emergency fund. I have a plan to pay off a $40k loan by the end of the year. That leaves me 3 months. Will get to writing a plan right now.

    • Mad Money Monster Sep 20, 2017, 11:12 am

      This is true! Fall in the NE US is not the same across the country (or the world for that matter). But for me, the start of school has always been a market, despite the seasons.

      Awesome plan with the loan! Make sure it’s S.M.A.R.T!

  • Penny Sep 20, 2017, 9:49 am

    Yes! As a teacher, the year starts in August and ends in June. July is limbo, I guess! Ha! This is a great time of year to take action before the doldrums of winter take hold.

    • Mad Money Monster Sep 20, 2017, 11:09 am

      I couldn’t agree more! I have always thought of the beginning of the school/college year as a fresh start. Why not take action now 🙂

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