First the most important thing you can do for your finances is to have a plan. Think about what your financial goals are and create a plan to reach those goals. The necessity of a plan sounds simple, but it is the one thing that many people overlook when it comes to their money. A dream without a plan is simply a wish. Part of that plan needs to be a budget, at least an outline of your projected income and expenses, and a list of your debts and debt payments to see where you stand.
Writing out your goals and then reviewing them on a regular basis keeps them top of mind. It is not just the mere action of writing them down that makes setting goals so powerful. It is the continual review that keeps you in achievement mode. This daily practice is the first step in success. Having your goals and disciplines at the forefront of your mind is transformative, but you need to see and remind yourself daily and having a written list that you see daily.
“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit,” according to Les Brown, a motivational speaker.
Consider letting go of personal limitations and setting goals that are seemingly difficult to achieve. When you set your goals, make yourself uncomfortable by setting goals that will stretch you to grow. Goals that you’re not sure exactly how you’re going to accomplish based on the person you are today. The most powerful thing about setting goals and accomplishing them isn’t the end result of the goal, but who you have become in the process.
Have your goals in front of you and keep track
It’s important to track where you have been so you can figure out how you are going to get to where you want to be. You might want to put your goal in place where you see it everyday. Writing down your goal provides great clarity to your brain and it works wonders. Definitely don’t procrastinate on goal setting. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The reason we start thinking about this stuff so early is so that you have plenty of time to put the systems in place to accomplish these goals.
Make it realistic and measurable
Goal-setting can take a really ugly turn when your goal is not a good one, the plan to achieve your goal is unrealistic, and/or you don’t take the time to consider the aftermath of accomplishing the goal. To start, you may actually have an objectively terrible goal. People don’t like hearing their goals are bad. What’s worse, not only can goals be bad but so can your plans to accomplish the goals. As you set goals, make sure you are looking past the event. You should set goals, but you need to ensure your goals still make sense after they are accomplished. Take the time to clearly define your financial goals and the actions that you are going to take to get there and evaluate the costs of achieving your goals, good and possibly bad. Your goals should be specific, positive, tangible and measurable.
Break it into smaller and fewer pieces
As humans, we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day or a week. But we also tend to under estimate what can be accomplished in a month, quarter or year. It is important that that you set intermittent short-term goals as part of your larger goal. Plan to break down your goal into specific monthly targets. Be encouraged as you hit those short term goals, eventually you will achieve your long term goal. There may be many things that we may want, but it is important that we choose the goals that will make the biggest desired difference. Fewer goals may be better than too many, and fewer goals may help you to focus and make the most progress.
Share your goals
There’s something about accountability and community that makes it easier to stay on track with what we’re pursuing, and to even go farther than we think we can. Have someone who cares about you to communicate your goals and progress in achieving them . . . this is great encouragement, and remember: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
What about you? What Financial goals would have the greatest positive effect in your life in 2016? Write it down, break it down, and keep it in front of you for the greatest possibility of success.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Independent Financial Partners, a registered investment advisor. Independent Financial Partners and Jeffrey W. Masters & Associates are separate entities from LPL Financial. – [email protected]
(1) Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology Research Date: January 26th, 2015