It’s hard to believe, but the clock is running down on 2015. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it is very easy to overlook setting goals, until you toast the new year and everyone asks what your goals are. This frequently leads to a lot of mumbling. Some will admit they haven’t set goals yet, while others will sputter and say the first thing that comes to mind. In many instances, they repeat something they overheard others say and those aren’t their real goals. But now they put those goals out into the world as their own and think they should attempt to follow-through with them. And most will not succeed.
I don’t say that to be cruel, but goal-setting is serious business and not done on a whim. And goal achievement takes even more dedication and should not be taken lightly. After 23 years of working with clients to help them achieve their financial goals, I know how much thought, work and sacrifice went into their goals. Goal success doesn’t happen without effort and attention.
Every goal has almost a life of its own. Understanding how that life span works helps prepare you for success. These tips hold true for any goal you want to achieve, financial or not. Every time you set a goal, review these steps first.
This may seem strange, but many people set goals to satisfy others or to fit into social norms or expectations versus setting goals that truly matter to them. As you can imagine, goals you don’t truly care about are difficult to achieve. And frankly, why bother? I know for me, personally, my time is limited and precious, so I make sure my time is spent wisely on the goals that help me create the life I want for myself and my family.
If you truly want to achieve your goals this year and forevermore, this is the most important step. You have to truly want to achieve your goals and know why they matter so much to you.
The one common mistake I frequently see is people set way too many goals. And I get it. You’re excited by the possibilities and feeling highly motivated, so you set a bunch of goals that you are truly committed to achieving at that moment. And then life happens. It’s okay to identify many potential goals, but then you need to be realistic on how many you can truly accomplish within the year. I generally recommend 1-3 goals per year.
Another smart tip is to also prioritize your goals. Every goal matters but some goals simply matter more. Rank your goals from highest to lowest priority, so when distractions occur (and they will) and time becomes limited, you know which goal to focus on. Otherwise, if you don’t know which goal matters the most, you will likely focus on the easiest, which is understandable, but may also be the goal that means the least.
Setting your goals is the first step but to truly achieve them, you have to develop a corresponding action plan, which is another step many people overlook. They assume setting goals is enough. I wish it was, but it is unlikely you can “will” goal achievement. Vision boards and affirmations can give you clarity and confidence, but you also have to take action to make your goals or dreams a reality.
It’s important that you set benchmarks in your action plan. This will help you monitor your progress and stay on schedule. It is also important that you don’t become too rigid with your action steps because as you delve deeper into your plan, you may discover that some benchmarks need adjusting, which is normal and does not mean you failed.
Those who achieve goals don’t set, then forget them. They schedule time to regularly assess their progress and tweak their action plans. Depending on the nature of your goal, determine whether weekly, monthly or quarterly reviews work best. Just find the right balance where you monitor progress without going overboard and driving yourself crazy.
Goal achievement doesn’t happen overnight. It can be a long, arduous journey. This is why you need to set some rewards too. Review your action plan and look for some key benchmarks and celebrate them when achieved. Don’t go crazy, but do something to celebrate and acknowledge your progress to keep you motivated and moving forward.
This is so important and something we don’t always think about. I’ve met with people where goals were a burden. Or they were deeply scared about not achieving them. Or they didn’t take them seriously. Then there are those individuals who have the right attitude. They are confident in the goals they chose and their ability to achieve them. Taking action from a place of confidence is what all of us should aim to achieve.
If you find yourself struggling to do so, then you need to figure out why. Is it because the goal isn’t the right one for you? Did you set too many goals? Do you need help? Goal setting is very personal, but you don’t have to achieve goals by yourself. It’s okay to seek help. Not only do I help people reach their financial goals, but I’ve worked with to others to help me achieve personal, business and financial goals too.
In a perfect world, this would never happen, but it is very unlikely like the road to goal achievement is perfectly paved with no bumps, potholes or detours. Setbacks will happen. Sometimes they will seem massive, signaling the end of your dream or so you think. This goes back to having the right attitude and mentally preparing yourself to handle setbacks when they occur. If you are not prepared to handle them, you will be more inclined to give-up, which you want to avoid, especially if the goal is something you truly want. Knowing that you are not perfect and that problems don’t equate failure, can help you stay calm in the face of a setback and weather through the storm.
Many people think achieving goal is impossible. It’s not. It does take work and commitment though. But I know when the goal truly matters and you follow these guidelines, you can achieve your dreams and create the life you want.
Have you set goals for next year? If so, tell us what there (if you’re comfortable doing so) and how you plan to achieve them.