There’s nothing quite like having a goal set out in front of you when it comes to motivation, and the turn of the new year can be the best time to focus on your goals. Your financial goals may be short-term, like paying off an outstanding debt, or long-term, like planning to start a family or save for your retirement. If a goal is well-designed so as to be visible, achievable but not unchallenging, and with an endpoint that is truly rewarding, it can help drive you to make strides you would have never thought possible.
Make It Real
First and foremost, a goal should eventually be truly obtainable. Think carefully about what specific improvement or future idea you really want to realize – this will spur the process of thinking about how you will get there in realistic ways. If the ideal path to your goal doesn’t look realistic, it may be time to re-evaluate the goal itself.
Set a Timer
Time does not have to add pressure or stress to the process of goal setting or goal achievement. In fact, the presence of a deadline or time limit can help streamline your ideas and turn them into a highly efficient plan for getting to your desired goal. Timed goal setting also helps you define progress realistically. Deciding that you want to save more is a fantastic goal, in abstract: deciding specifically that you will put away exactly a certain percentage of what you earn over the next year, for example, takes much of the abstraction out of the equation.
Track Your Progress
Tracking data allows you to make periodic check-ups on your progress, to break down goal achievement into more manageable steps that you can define for yourself, and gives you the feedback necessary to know for sure whether a goal has succeeded or failed (and on what terms.) Much like an athlete might keep track of their training, using a method that works for you to keep a tally of your saving and spending habits and the changes you’re making on your way to a goal will make it all the more valuable once achieved.
Break it Down
Goals, especially longer-term ones, benefit greatly from being approached in stages or steps. As each step is made toward your goal, evaluate it in relation to your overall plan, and compare the results with those of the previous step. Rather than having to continually focus on the distant endpoint of a goal, direct your attention to the most pertinent step at hand. Another benefit of this strategy is that you can celebrate the completion of each step, maintaining motivation and positivity over the full breadth of your plan.
Give Yourself the Tools
Once your goal setting plan begins to take shape, you may realize that reaching the end goal may require careful financial planning. Financial plans are complex goals unto themselves: how will you manage your money over the next month? Six months? Year or more?
Progressa was created to help people overcome some of the financial obstacles that stand in the way of their goals and create a culture of responsible, thoughtful financial self-improvement. We’d be happy to talk with you to find out what your goals look like, and help you find out how you can reach them.