How SMART goals are killing your dreams, and what to do about it

It’s scary to me how we’ve gotten so wrapped up in setting SMART goals. SMART goals are those goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Somehow, SMART goals have become the staple for setting achievable goals. If you’ve ever had a goal that was important to you, chances are you turned it into a SMART goal.

A lot of people think that goal-setting and SMART goals are synonymous. However, that is not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, it’s a pretty poor way of going about setting goals.

Is your goal specific? Can you realistically achieve the goal? If your answer isn’t a resounding “yes”, then you’re told not to go for it.

And that’s precisely what’s wrong with SMART goals. Has any goal that’s worthwhile been reasonably attainable?

Let that question sit for a moment.

  • Think of the greatest achievements mankind has ever experienced:
    Traveling to the moon
  • Personal computers
  • The 4-minute mile run
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights Movement
  • LGBT Social Movements
  • Telecommunication
  • Electricity
  • Air travels and fighter jets
  • The Discovery of America

None of these were reasonable. They weren’t realistic or time-bound.

Think about the journey to the moon. Was that reasonable? No. It really wasn’t. Was it time-bound? President Kennedy said, “within a decade”, so the time frame was ambiguous at best.

How Smart Goals Are Killing Your Dreams And What to do about it


Where are the big dreams?

The problem we have in today’s world is that we’re all dominated by having realistic goals.

What happened to all the “walking on the moon” dreams? Where’s the “Let’s create an empire and take over the world” dreams?

They’ve been replaced with tasks that need to get done today. They’ve been replaced with smaller, more realistic SMART goals.

But it wasn’t a SMART goal for Columbus to travel west across the ocean to get to India. And in the process, finding America.

It wasn’t a SMART goal for Martin Luther King, Jr. to say, “Let’s march on Washington”.

It wasn’t a SMART goal for us to put people into a metal container and launch them into space.

These were not SMART goals.

They were seemingly impossible dreams. And they changed our world forever.

Yes, eventually we need to take a goal and break it out into measurable steps, but that’s where most people start; they start small.

Because we tend to smart small, our greatest achievements are limited to checking off items on a list or filling in a graphic organizer. But do these lists add more joy and vibrancy to our lives? They just become replaced with more things to do.


D.U.M.B. goals

I want you to start thinking bigger for your life. Get over your failures, and get back on the path that matters to you and stop managing to-do lists.

When your life becomes managing lists of things to do, you end up losing the fire of inspiration and have a difficult time finding  joy in your life.

When you opened up about your dreams to someone, they may have told you, “That goal sounds realistic. Go for it.” Because of that, there’s nothing exciting to work toward.

I want to challenge you to become inspired.

Instead of always defaulting to SMART goals, I want you to take the opposite approach.

I want you to try creating DUMB goals.

I learned about DUMB goals through my mentor, Brendon Burchard. DUMB stands for Dream-focused, Uplifting, Method-based, Behavior-triggered.

  • Dream-Focused: Is what you’re seeking to achieve really your dream? If you were to achieve it, would it bring more vibrancy and meaning in your life?
  • Uplifting: Is this goal uplifting? Will achieving it build you up, give you more purpose and  happiness? What would you gain by achieving this goal?
  • Method-Based: Does this goal have a blueprint for success? Following a proven method will increase your chances for success. For example, if you want to change your finances, follow a method proven to be successful.
  • Behavior-Triggered. We have to establish a behavior trigger to help remind us of our goal. Otherwise, we’ll forget all about it. Ever try to diet only to forget that you were on a diet? Try to think of something that will frequently remind you that you are striving towards an important goal.

I love DUMB goals because they broaden our perspective.

They focus on setting goals that are important to us: buying that first home, setting up an annual vacation savings plan, or discovering our purpose.

DUMB goals push us to work towards creating a future we once only imagined was possible. Download this worksheet to help you structure your DUMB goal.



SMART goals aren’t relatable to your real dreams. They’re just something you check off and maybe give yourself a high five for completing.

I want you to move onto a whole other level. A new stratosphere of your work and contributions.

What goal could you have that would feel magical? What goal ignites a fire in you?The world needs that special gift that only you have to offer.

As soon as you figure out what that is, you can dream up something huge. When you look within yourself and figure out what you really want, you’ll have no choice but to ask yourself, “How do I do that?”

That’s what happened to me. That question changed my life.

I became a financial advisor to work with people just like me; young professionals in their thirties and forties. I wanted to help people just starting out in life with good jobs, but also a mountain of student debt.

My challenge was that I worked for a large Wall Street firm. These firms have substantial revenue goals for their advisors which traditionally can only be met through working with retirees.

If I made young professionals my niche, I’d be fired.

I really wanted to make this work. In my eyes, it was genius. 99 percent of financial advisors only work with retirees. I would be competing against less than 1 percent of the industry. Even though it wasn’t what Wall Street wanted me to do, it was an industry that was mine for the taking.

Naturally that lead me to the question, “How do I do that?”

I had no idea how to register as a Registered Investment Advisor. I didn’t know anything about student loans or planning for college. I just knew those were the skills required to serve the needs of growing families.

First, look deep inside yourself to figure out what it is you really want to do. If you could accomplish any goal, what would make you happy? When you get to the point where you’ve zeroed in on your goal, use this worksheet to it  into a Dream-focused, Uplifting, Method-based, Behavior-triggered goal.

“How do I do that?” is a life changing question, and I’d like to help you find the answer.


Now I want to hear from you.

What kind of questions do you have for me? If they’re good enough, I’ll answer them on my next episode of #AskTommy.

5 Steps to Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is a huge milestone in your life. For most people, it’s one of the biggest purchases they’ll ever make, which is why it’s very important to take this whole process very seriously. You don’t want to pay more for a home than you have to. And you don’t want to end up over your head with a mortgage payment you can’t afford.

Continue reading

5 Tips to Boost Your Financial Confidence

For most of us, saving money isn’t something that comes easy. Sure we keep meaning to set up an emergency fund, pay off our student loans, and even save for the future. But those intentions seem to get lost in all the responsibilities of today.

One reason why people get overwhelmed with their money and financial goals is that their’s a lot to think about. There’s never one financial goal to consider and work towards. Between building up a savings, paying bills, and hitting big life milestones. It’s a lot. And we’re doing it all ourselves.

If you’re someone who’s struggled to gain the courage and confidence you need with your money. There’s good news. I’m going to share with you 5 tips to help you build that savings muscle.


1. Start small

Choose a goal that’s relatively easy to accomplish. If you know you need to build an emergency fund, don’t focus on the thousand dollars that you need to put in there. Start with opening the savings account.

If you want to pay off your debt, start getting an inventory of everything you owe. On both federal and private loans-down to the interest rate. Better yet, for your federal loans, go to Download your student load data. And call up your private loan services and ask for copies of your promissory notes. Have them mail it to you. Once you get them, if you need help reading them, schedule a call with me.

These are much smaller tasks and easier to achieve. They’ll give you the courage and confidence you need so that you can take on more. Too often people fail to save because they get overwhelmed. They create these vague goals and don’t know where to start. Saving for a down payment on a home may seem like an everyday goals that people do. But when you break it down, there’s quite a few more things to do that just saving the money.

Often, we don’t know where to start. And because we don’t know everything, we do nothing. It’s a sort of paralysis by analysis. But when we break it down into our project into smaller steps, we reduce the barrier to get started.

When I take on a new client, one of the first financial goals I set up for them setup is to fund their annual vacation. I’m building a positive association around exercising discipline with their money.

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2. Make goals positive and specific.

Saving for something like next year’s vacation is positive. And it’s specific.

Instead of letting them do what they’ve always done. Which is, use their tax refund or resorting to credit card debt, my clients will enjoy a debt-free vacation. That’s going to feel a hell of a lot different than one put on plastic.

Having specific goals gives us something to measure. If we change our effort (save more or less) we change our result. If we fail to save the $40 a week, we could be looking at staying at a hotel in town as opposed to on the beach.

When setting your goals, use the S.M.A.R.T. system.

Specific – What is it that you want to exactly achieve?

Measurable – How much do you need to save per year/month/week

Achievable – Can you do this? Or is it a stretch?

Relative – Why is this goal important to you? If it’s not, stop here.

Timely – When do you need to complete this goal by?

You can download my Dream Worksheet to help you organize your goals.


3. Select a method of saving

It’s important to know how you’re going to put away this money and keep it there.

Bank somewhere that allows you to open multiple savings accounts. Leaving this money in your primary checking account isn’t a good idea. It only increases the chances that you’re going to spend it. It’s helpful to give these accounts specific names to reflect your goal. Name them your Emergency fund, Vacation fund, or House fund.

I recommend a CapitalOne 360 account. There’s a few reasons for this. First, CapitalOne 360 doesn’t have any balance requirements. Also, it’s free. It doesn’t cost anything to open the account. In contrast, most banks charge at least $5 a month if you fall below their limits.


4. Automate your savings

When it comes to saving for a house, building your emergency fund, or any other financial goal. Always automate the good behavior. Take discipline out of the equation.

You are the only thing between you and achieving your financial goals. Given the chance, you’ll talk yourself out of saving.

Always automate:

  • Retirement savings
  • Dream Goals: Vacation, Travel, Down payment on a home or car. New toy.
  • Fixed monthly bills. They’re the same every month. Why wait to send out the payment only to risk forgetting.
  • Donations to charity

You can set up automatic payments using your bank’s online bill tools.


[bctt tweet=”You are the only thing between you and achieving your financial goals — all of them.” username=”clearpathria”]


5. Keep an Eye on Things

From here, you just need to keep an eye on your cash flow. Make sure these little changes in your cash flow aren’t leaving you to overdraw your accounts.

Setting Money Goals


Once you’ve started to build your savings muscle, extend this behavior in to larger, long-term goals. You can even work towards multiple goals like saving for vacation and paying off debt at the same time. Use these tips to help you stay on course and build a cash cushion while saving for the future.


Now, I’d love to hear from you.  Here’s a two-part question for you today.

1. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being in financial trouble and 10 being a total money machine, where are you at?

2. What are some of things that help you become confident with your money?


Leave a comment below and let me know.

And remember, we are a community. We’re here to help each other out. Your response could really help someone break through some financial challenges.


I want to hear from you

Do you have a pressing question. If so you can drop it in the comments below or ask me privately. If it’s good enough, I’ll answer it and mention you on my next Q&A Tuesday on TommyTV.



Let’s Make This the Best Year Ever

Best Year Ever

Creating the best year ever

I absolutely love kicking off the New Year. Let’s make this the best year ever with New Year’s goals. Personally, it’s a time for me to wind down after a very busy year and holiday season. It’s also a time to reflect upon the previous year, and for me to determine what I want more of in my life–time with friends and family, make new friends, and golf–and consequently, determine what I want less of–stress, anxiety, doom and gloom people, and unexpected financial problems.

It’s also a great time to create new goals. After all, it’s a New Year. But a word of caution. Don’t confuse creating New Year’s goals with a New Year’s Resolution. New Year’s Resolutions are like budgets – they don’t work. New Year’s goals are followed by scheduling success on your calendar!

Instead of going down that traditional road of making a New Year’s Resolution, why don’t you try something new?



I’m a believer and practitioner that progress equals happiness. No matter what you want to achieve, create or experience in your life, making meaningful progress is the only way that you’ll be happy.

I want to share my 2-step process for designing a life of progress -happiness. If you want to better yourself, enhance your relationships, and progress in your business or career, this tool will help.


Step 1: The Brain Dump

We’re going to write down everything that you want to do or experience in the next 12 months. Creating the best year ever doesn’t have to start in January. It can start today.

A “brain dump” is a complete transfer of accessible knowledge from your brain to some other form of storage medium, such as a notepad. You would be surprised at how many people never perform a brain dump. Their brain is in a continuous process of recycling important thoughts. It’s a very draining process that often puts people in a state of panic and stress. Just imagine what you would do to your computer if you never shut it down, or rebooted it. Eventually, it runs out of virtual memory and can no longer run important processes.


Brew your favorite cup of coffee or tea because it’s time to get all those wonderful dreams, goals and to-dos out of your wonderful head and onto a notepad.


Take Action: Write down all the things that you want to experience or achieve in the next 12 months. Grab our free downloadable Brain Dump tool below. It’s what I use in my personal life and business to organize my thoughts, sift through everything, and identify what projects are going to take priority throughout the year.

Watch this episode and design a life you love by completing key tasks that will get you there.


Make this the Best Year Ever



Best Year Ever

I want to hear from you

What’s the number one goal that’s going to help you design a life you love this year? What’s it going to take for you to make this goal a reality? And, how’s it going to make you feel when you actually accomplish it?

Also, do you have a money question? If so you can drop it in the comments below or ask me privately. If it’s good enough, I’ll answer it and mention you on my next Q&A Tuesday on TommyTV.


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