We have that really annoying friend or co-worker who always seems to set goals and then crush them! They seem to have a motivational quote for every situation and conversation. You know who they are; this is not to say that they may not be great people. However, they seem to shine a light on the goals you made that you are not quit achieving.
· Don’t Be Hard on Yourself or Beat Yourself Up. I am 100% positive your annoying friend/ co-worker is not telling you about the other numerous goals they have that they struggle with. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others and this leaves us feeling that we sometimes don’t measure up. So, the first thing is to understand that you should only be comparing yourself to yourself.
· Examine Your Goals. Write your goals down. How many do you have? Many clients list so many that there is no way they can focus or manage them all. You can really only work on about 3-4 goals at a time. Anymore than this and you are setting yourself up to divide so much of your attention that you will struggle to focus. If you have a long list, work on narrowing it down to a manageable number.
· Rank Your Goals. Often we say want to accomplish a goal only because we think we should or others in our lives want them for us. Be honest here. Rank your goals on a scale of 1-5 the priority they have in your life. Do they impact your relationship with yourself, with others, your work, your health, etc?
· Imagine/ Daydream. This may seem silly but to really accomplish a goal you must know why you want to accomplish this and how doing so will hopefully improve your life. So, spend some time to really imagine how the accomplishment of this goal will positively impact you. Think about what you will be doing or able to do once you are finished. Feels good, right?
· Develop Your Goals. Beside each goal write a sentence or two that makes your goal specific. The more specific the better because you will be defining your goals and this will help you make an actionable plan. It’s the difference between, “I want to save money.” And “I want to save $25,000”. If you say you only want to save money you don’t if that’s a lot or a little you could not buy gum one day and that saved you money. But, was that your goal? The more specific you are the more you will understand what you need to do to reach your goal.
· Be Realistic. Make your goal something that you can realistically achieve. You will have a very hard time saving $1,000,0000 in 1 yr. if you only make $85,000/yr. So, if you have a really lofty goal like this break it down to more manageable parts and work on those.
· Set a Timeline. Write a time by which you hope to achieve this. Defining a timeline creates urgency for you and will be less likely to procrastinate. This also allows you to put check-in dates on your calendar so that you can track your progress.
· Create a Mini-Plan. If you know what you want to accomplish think about how you will get there. What do you need to do to achieve your goal? Do you need help, information, or motivation? Do you need someone to be accountable to? Whatever you feel you need go ahead and start setting it up. Break your goal into tasks and add due dates for them.
· Check-In With Yourself. Work backward from whatever time frame you gave yourself and create check-ins. During these you will re-read your goals and the sentences you wrote about them. Then you will have to honestly rate yourself on how you have been doing.
This is much easier when you have a defined a specific, detailed, realistic goal. You don’t want to discourage yourself if you haven’t done as much work as you like. You only have to adjust your habits or behavior patterns to more closely align with your goals.
· Celebrate Victories and Re-Adjust. Even if you haven’t accomplished your overall goal, celebrate your wins. This is a great way to stay motivated. Remember a treat is much more motivational than a punishment. If you are off your path or you haven’t been focusing on your tasks as much as you need to. That’s ok. This is why it’s good to set check-ins, you can adjust what you are doing to get back on track.
I think back to graduate school and remember SMART goals from a project management class. Being a planner by nature I really enjoyed the class and could see how it perfectly aligned with my business of financial planning. I knew that many individuals could benefit from applying this to their own lives. SMART stands for (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result Orientation, Time Bound).
By following the outline above you will have followed this SMART goal outline. If you want to go further into planning your goals there are a lot of tools, calendars, mantras, etc. out there.
Don’t spend all your time planning. I will leave you with this; the only way to accomplish something is to get started. So set your goals and begin. Be kind to yourself throughout the process you are learning and trying something new. Celebrate when you have small or big wins, and ask for help when you need it.
Good luck, you can do it!
This information is general in nature and may be subject to change. Financial professionals and other representatives are not authorized to give legal, tax or accounting advice. Applicable laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Any tax statements in this material are not intended to suggest the avoidance of U.S. federal, state or local tax penalties. For advice concerning your individual circumstances, consult a professional attorney, tax advisor or accountant. .
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