Every January, most of us make some sort of resolution, and many times they involve our money. Maybe we want to get out of debt, save more money, purchase a house, or open an IRA – whatever it is, coming up with these goals is never the issue. It’s sticking to them that’s hard to accomplish.
And it’s about this time, late January to mid-February, where our enthusiasm has slightly faded, and maybe that awesome idea we had of paying down our debt, or non-financial goals like signing up for a marathon, learning how to speak French, or not eating out as often anymore has gotten a little old.
You’ll have more success if you choose your goals based on these guidelines:
– Choose realistic goals. One of the biggest mistakes most people make is choosing unrealistic goals. For example, if your annual income is $40,000, it’s not realistic to want to pay off $35,000 worth of debt in one year. It’s important to set your sights high, but only if you aren’t setting yourself up for failure in the process.
– Be specific. The reason why you want to be as specific as possible in your goal, is because you will know exactly what you have to do to – and when you have achieved it. Instead of saying “I want to put more money into my IRAs this year,” try creating a specific goal by saying, “I want to put $250 from each pay check into my IRA this year.” This gives you a clear task to accomplish, instead of something vague.
– Create a plan. Resolving to change something in your life is the first step, but you need to create a plan to achieve your goal. So for example, if your goal is to save at least two months’ worth of expenses, how will you go about doing that? Figure out how much money you will need to save, and divide that amount by the number of pay checks you will receive during 2015. Then, set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account each time you get paid. Taking the time to create a simple plan will ensure that you have a much higher probability of achieving your goals.
– Tell other people about your goals. Telling friends and family members about what you hope to achieve makes your goals become real. The people you care about the most will be able to hold you accountable to your goals and provide support along the way. It might be a good idea to try to find someone in your life that has a similar goal. Working together provides motivation and provides a sense of camaraderie.
– Review your goals often. Take the time to review your goals on a weekly or monthly basis. This will help you stay focused on achieving your goals, and help you figure out what strategies are working for you – and what aren’t. Some people like to use markers on their bathroom mirrors to write down their goals. It forces them to review what they want in life every single day, and that’s really helpful when it comes to staying on track.
– Have patience. Achieving big things doesn’t just happen overnight. It can be easy to get discouraged right away, and that’s when most people tend to give up and fall back into old habits. Anytime we work to change something in our lives, we are bound to stumble along the way – so have patience. Don’t give up if you don’t see progress right away. It will come in time.
In order to be successful with whatever you want in life, you have to be motivated. Decide what your most important goals are, and spend your energy trying to accomplish those things.