This is your year! When it comes to setting smart goals, most of us have the best intentions. You’re finally going to take control of your money. Get fit. Start a new hobby. Yada yada.
But here’s the thing. Most of us won’t actually do any of that. Setting goals for yourself is absolutely the right thing to do, but just having good intentions alone changes nothing. You can make resolutions all you want—but a resolution without a plan is just wishful thinking. So, how can you stick with your goals throughout the year?
Essential Guidelines for Your Goals
What do you want to achieve? Get down to the nitty-gritty with it. Just saying you want to lose weight won’t cut it. Instead try, “I’d like to drop 20 pounds and be able to do at least 20 sit-ups in a row without passing out.” Watch for any roadblocks that could keep you from reaching your goal, and make a plan to get around them.
Questions to ask yourself: Who does my goal involve? What am I trying to accomplish here? When and why do I want to make this goal happen?
Make Goals Measurable
If you know your ultimate goal is to pay off $24,000 of debt in the next year, that means you have to pay $2,000 a month to reach that goal (or about $460 a week). Break your goal into doable chunks. Give yourself daily, weekly and monthly steps. Focus on those, accomplish one, then head on to the next one.
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Questions to ask yourself: How long will it take to reach my goal? How do I know when I’ve reached my goal?
Make Goals Time-Sensitive
Set a time limit—because you need a finish line. Take that goal of yours, create a plan, and break it all the way down to daily activities. Then, give yourself a deadline. For example, “I’d like to lose 20 pounds by December 31.” To lose 20 pounds, calculate things like how many times you need to work out each week and how many calories you need to eat in a day. Use a tool like the Business Boutique 2020 Goal Planner to help you organize your thoughts and attack your plan.
Questions to ask yourself: Do I have a deadline for reaching my goal? When will I achieve this goal? How many times will I achieve this goal?
Goals Need to Be Yours
Let’s be honest—trying to accomplish someone else’s goals for you never works out. Sure, your mom may want you to take classes and switch careers. But it won’t happen unless it’s your desire too. Why? Because striving to win isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s tough. And you won’t have the drive to stick with it if you’re working toward a goal you’re not even passionate about.
And just because your spouse or parent wants you to get out of debt doesn’t mean you will either. You have to want it too. The goals you set must be your goals. When push comes to shove, you’re the one who has to fight to make them a reality. So get in there and start swinging!
Questions to ask yourself: Is this my goal? Or is it someone else’s desire for me?
Put It in Writing
Something special happens when you write down specific goals. Get them down on paper along with all the steps it’ll take for you to get there. Our Goal Tracker Worksheet is a handy tool for this. Seeing your goals in black and white will help you hold yourself accountable and track your progress along the way.
Questions to ask yourself: Do I know the steps to reach my goal? Have I laid out a blueprint for how to get there?
Seven Areas of Life for Smart Goals
We recommend you set goals for these seven significant areas of life:
- Financial Goals: Start saving for retirement, get out of debt, or use a monthly zero-based budget.
- Spiritual Goals: Pick up a new devotional, start a daily journal, or plug in to a group at your church.
- Fitness Goals: Hit the gym more often, take the stairs, and remember to eat your veggies.
- Educational Goals: Go back to finish your degree, get your MBA, or read a good book every month.
- Family Goals: Plan one-on-one dates with your kids, have a standing date night with your spouse, or make it a point to call your mom and dad on Sunday nights.
- Career Goals: Work toward a promotion or raise, learn something new about your line of work, or polish up and send out resumés if you’re looking for a new career path.
- Social Goals: Say yes when someone invites you out to lunch or a social gathering—or, for some of us, say no more often.
Don’t get discouraged if you get off track. Life happens. We all hit speed bumps and roadblocks from time to time. That’s okay! As long as you stay focused on the end goal and keep taking small steps toward achieving it, you’ll be on your way to big life-change.
Take the first step toward reaching your financial goals by going through our personalized Get Started Assessment. We’ll get to know you, your money habits and the financial goals that matter most to you (not your mama). In just a few minutes, you’ll get a free, customized financial plan, along with tools and resources (yep, they’re free too). So what are you waiting for? Get started on your goals today!