We’re heading into 2018 at lighting speed so it’s time to take another look at those financial goals and set yourself up for success. Whether you had 2017 goals that fell by the wayside or financial goal setting is completely new to you, here are some tips to keep you motivated a moving in the right direction.
Leave the Past in the Past
The first rule of resetting your financial goals, is that you must let go of the past. It doesn’t matter if you failed to achieve those goals last year. Take what progress you did make and use it as your new starting point to redefine your goals. Use that experience to think about what went wrong. Why did you give up on your goals? Was there an unforeseen circumstance you couldn’t control, or were there measures you could have taken to have made you more successful in your journey to complete them? Was there anything that stood in your way that you could eliminate this year?
Be Honest and Ambitious
Now that you’re moving forward, smarter and wiser than you were in 2017, sit down to think about your goals for 2018 and what’s really important to you. Feel free to reach for the stars. You can start with the big picture of where you want to be in life in five to ten years, and then work backwards to determine how to get your finances to match up with your goals. Refining those dreams into measurable and achievable goals can be a lot harder. It’s important to strike a nice balance between attainable and ambitious. Your goals should feel a little uncomfortable. A little bit of stretching to achieve them is important, because if it’s not a stretch then it’s impossible to get that same rewarding feeling of satisfaction when you achieve them. It’s also important to be honest with yourself in this process. What do you really want? What do you know you can achieve if you want it badly enough? What actions are you willing to take to ensure that you can accomplish those goals?
Write it Down
Write those goals down! You may think that you can remember your goals, so writing them down isn’t important, but it is. You may not need to write them down to remember them on a broader basis, but on a daily basis, seeing those goals can serve as a great motivator. Write down not only your financial goals, but why you want to achieve that goal. What happens when you achieve it? For instance, if your goal is to save $30,000, that can feel completely overwhelming or not important compared to the everyday things that may pop up on your want list. However, if you add a reason why, it changes the entire way you perceive your goal. In this case, let’s say you’re saving for the down payment on a house. All of a sudden you can ask yourself if you would rather have that new pair of shoes or a house. It makes your money goals feel a lot more real and tangible.
Build a System Around Your Goals
Once you’ve developed your goals and written them down, it’s time to develop a plan to keep yourself on track. Very few people are able to think of a goal and just simply achieve it by their own sheer will power. If you’re one of those people, then I tip my hat to you and off you go! For the rest of us, we may need some help getting to the finish line. For some people, that may be a motivational saying or affirmation. For others tracking your progress in a visual way can be motivating. Often, the people that are most successful at achieving their financial goals are those that are using an accountability partner. Whether it’s a friend, significant other, family member, or even a personal finance coach, that person should be able to hold you to your plan without sending you into an angry pit of despair. It’s even better if you can find someone else with similar goals. This can motivate and inspire you, and when it comes to your personal finances, often spending less money can help accelerate the rate at which you can achieve your goals. In that case, it’s always good to have someone to spend time with that won’t expect you to open your wallet.
No matter what your goals might be for 2018, I wish you all the absolute best and know that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. If you need help with your financial goals, reach out. We’re only a call or e-mail away!
Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook
Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, finance writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband and adorable daughter. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, taking their lovable mutt for walks, or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.