January 1, 2023 | David Lawrence, CFP®, AIF®
Think of how you felt the last time you saw the home or car you’ve dreamed of owning. Or maybe it was how you felt when you thought of retiring at an early age. This strong desire you feel to make that dream a reality is the birthplace of your future financial goals.
However, financial goals are often difficult to accomplish and come up against obstacles. Whether it’s spending money on things rather than saving for your goal (albeit sometimes out of necessity), the busyness of life getting us sidetracked, or our initial plans not being realistic.
To find success, a goal needs to be clear and have effective strategies to support them – along with the discipline of staying on track. Without these structured goals, can we expect anything other than our hopes fading away?
Do you have goals you’re looking to set up for 2023? Use some of the steps below and talk with us to help you get on a sustainable long-term path.
Be reasonable – It’s always important to be realistic; but for financial goals, it is essential. If you make your goals too extreme, you set yourself up for frustration and disappointment. It’s better to have an easy goal you can reach than an impossible goal that makes you quit. Once you have a little success, you can raise your expectations.
Set solid milestones and celebrate them– Milestones are a great way to track progress and boost your morale, but you need to make them an important part of your life. If you’ve made it halfway to your goal, celebrate in some way and give yourself a taste of what success will feel like. Stay positive; milestones, are meant to show you how far you’ve come, not how far you still have to go.
Find some accountability– Telling someone else – most important being your financial advisor - about your goals and have them check up on your progress. This can boost your discipline to your goal. Sharing updates- even occasionally – will help you be accountable and can provide a lot of encouragement to stick to your plan.
Automate what you can – Constantly trying to make the right choices can wear down your motivation. Automating your target savings or debt payments can help you avoid the potential mistakes and will allow you to save your energy for other challenges.
Break and build habits – It’s often said that it takes 21 days to break a habit or build a new one. While the psychology isn’t exact, it’s clear that our habits are a lot easier to change than we usually imagine. If you can force yourself to stick to a plan for just three weeks, progress should become much easier.
Limit the number of goals– Reaching goals can be difficult, so don’t try to accomplish several of them simultaneously. Only start one or two financial goals at a time and don’t create new ones until your current efforts have become second nature.
Bend so that you don’t snap– Interruptions are inevitable. Much like setting a realistic goal, it’s important to have realistic expectations for your progress. If there is an unavoidable problem, adjust your goal accordingly and keep trying. Don’t give up on a goal just because of an unplanned setback.
Reaching goals is a skill that takes practice and experience. In accomplishing one goal, you learn which strategies work best with your personality. Even when you fail, you’ve learned more about what it takes to reach success. The important thing is being willing to try again.