Developing SMART Goals
I nMost of us need a plan to achieve our wishes. A legal plan of action starts with goals. If you set s“SMART” goals you’ll have a roadmap to achieve the legal actions that are important to you and eyour family. rt lSMART legal goals have several important criteria. oShould be SPECIFIC with dates, resources, and dollar amounts needed to accomplish S gthe goal. o Should be MEASUREABLE. Determine weekly or monthly dates and dollar amounts M hto accomplish goals. MUTUAL is another word to consider. Legal goals that are eshared with your spouse, partner, and family members will be easier to achieve. It is rimportant to think about how you’ll keep yourself MOTIVATED to achieve the goals. e Your goals should be ATTAINABLE for your situation. Maybe you will be able to A
complete part of the goal now.
If your goals are REALISTIC and RELEVANT to your life they will be easier to R
achieve. Identify the RESOURCES needed to achieve your goals. It is also important
to REVIEW and REVISE your goals when necessary.
You’ll need a specific TIMELINE to accomplish your goals. Since there’s never T
enough time to complete all your goals immediately, you need to prioritize your goals.
When you first think of all the legal tasks to be accomplished, you may feel overwhelmed. One
way to achieve your goals is to break up the tasks into chunks. Set short-term (complete in less
than 3 months), intermediate-term (complete in 3 to 6 months), and long-term goals (complete in
a year or more).
For example, a short-term legal goal might be to write to the appropriate agency to obtain an
important missing document by the end of this week. To make the goal more specific, indicate
the name of the paper and the agency you will contact. Another short-term goal might be to
video or take photographs of your household property by next weekend. To make this goal more
specific and measurable, list the rooms you will photograph and the weekend date. On the
following weekend, you will write the brand, serial number, and purchase price of the electronic
products in your house (television, VCR, computer, etc.) on a household inventory list. If you
can’t find purchase prices in your records, read newspaper classified advertisements or check the
Internet for the value electronic gear that is similar in age and features to yours. Record that
information on your household inventory list.
An intermediate goal could be to get names of attorneys who specialize in wills and estate
planning. To make this goal specific, list the resources you will use to obtain attorney’s names,
addresses, and phone numbers. Set a deadline date, such as “within 3 months.” Another
intermediate goal might be to complete forms for a living will and durable power of attorney for
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health care within 5 months. To make this goal more specific/measurable, list where you will
obtain the forms and a deadline date, such as “by June 1.”
An example of a long-term goal might be to determine if establishing a trust will benefit you and
your heirs. Make it specific by setting a deadline date. If you set short- or intermediate-term
goals of learning about trusts, their advantages and disadvantages, and costs, your trust goal will
be easier to accomplish.
In the chart on the next page, start your goal list.
Put your plan into action. Remind yourself of your goals often. That’s one reason for having written goals. To stay motivated, visualize the reduced worries, problems, and time that your
family will have as a result of your goals being accomplished. Frequently evaluate your progress
toward reaching your goals and make changes as needed. Once you achieve a goal, move on to
the next one.
With motivation, commitment, and discipline, you can achieve your dreams and take control of
your legal future.
Adapted for use in the Legally Secure Your Financial Future program
from a publication by Nancy Porter, Ph.D., Clemson University Extension Family Economics Specialist.
This document is for non-profit educational purposes only. This document may not be used by a profit-making
company or organization. When used by a non-profit organization, appropriate credit must be given to the
Cooperative Extension Legally Secure Your Financial Future: Organize, Communicate, Prepare. Materials for this
program were developed by a team from six land-grant universities. The program is included in the program toolkit
of the Cooperative Extension Financial Security in Later Life national initiative. For more information go to: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fsll."
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Legal Goal Setting Worksheet
Rank (top Approximate cost (if
priority is any) or Resources Completion Start
# 1) date needed Goals date Short-term (less than 3 months)
Intermediate-term (3 to 6 months)
Long-term (a year or more)
Date prepared _____/_____/_____ For (name) ____________________________________
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