You have big plans and exciting goals. Some years you even make resolutions but you are not happy with your progress. You:
want to save money
or get out of debt
or have better control over your finances
But you have wanted this for a long time and progress is too slow.
The first step is not to lay out the details of your goal; the first step is to figure out your why.
Why is this goal so important to you? Maybe you want to save money so you can buy a home for your family or send your children to college or quit your soul sucking job or retire before you are 90.
How does this goal fit into your overall life plan?
If you can spare an hour, I recommend this exercise from J.D. Roth at moneyboss.com to craft your personal mission statement. If you don’t think you can spare an hour, then you really need to read this article. You will take five minutes each to prepare three lists: your lifetime goals, how you would like to spend the next five years, and how you would live if you knew you would be dead in six months (but completely symptom free until then). From your lists, you look for overlap to identify your most important goals. From the goals list, you then craft your mission statement.
After going through this process, you will learn more about yourself and your goals may shift.
Once you have the structure of a mission statement, it sets your WHY and helps you keep your eye on your goals.
I did this exercise after retiring. My personal mission statement is:
I want to seek out active travel and social opportunities and help others to identify and achieve their financial goals.
My mission statement is broad enough to include my work on this blog, my goal of enhancing our school district’s personal financial education curriculum, and the blisters on my feet attest to my pursuit of active social opportunities.
Ok so you have your WHY.
Now lay out the details of your goals and make them S-M-A-R-T goals:
Specific – What are you going to do, why is it important, how are you going to do it
Measurable – Choose a goal with measurable progress
Attainable – it should require real commitment but not be impossible
Realistic – You have the skills, you have a plan
Timely – Set a timeframe for the goal in weeks or months
For more ideas, take a look at this: goal setting guide
You have your WHY and you’ve set your S-M-A-R-T goals, now you need reminders of your goals so you can keep your eye on the prize.
Create reminders – it can be lipstick on the mirror, sticky notes, a picture representing your life after achieving this goal (on your phone?), a progress bar, an email reminder, an accountability partner. Need more ideas? Check out this: powerful reminders
Put your reminders everywhere – in your house, your car, your wallet, your office etc.
Learn as much as you can about how to reach your particular goal and about goals in general.
Can you use habits to help you reach your goals? Once you’ve done something for a while, it is soooo much easier to stick with it! Check Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin out of the library or listen to her Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast.
My goals for retirement included daily stretching and exercise. I learned from Gretchen that the best time to set a new habit is when making a significant change in your life. So I started a morning stretching ritual the first day of retirement. Now, it is a habit—wake up, drink lemon water, stretch, make latte, get on with my day. I don’t have to think about it – super easy.
What helps you meet your goals? I welcome your comments.