Setting Goals & Achieving Them

I want to save more money.  I want to pay my new car off this year.  I want to save to put a down payment on a house in two years.  It is a new year which brings about the tradition of making the list of things you want to accomplish this year.  Unfortunately, by the time you read this, about 1/3 of you will already have given up on your New Year’s resolutions. 

Roughly 80% of resolutions never come to fruition.  How can we keep our goals going throughout the year instead of being put on hold until next January?

Be Specific

Just saying, “I want to save more money” is dooming yourself to failure.  When you make a goal that is so vague, you have no motivation to achieve it.  When you set a specific goal, you are internalizing the goal; you are making it personal.  When it’s personal, you find the motivation to try and reach your goal.  When someone says, “I want to save up $500 in an emergency fund” they are being more specific.  That amount and that specific place for the money to be saved makes that goal personal to them.  Plus you actually know what you’re working towards!  Which brings us to the next tip.

Know When Your Goal is Reached

Yes, we all want to look towards the end game and see that $500 in our savings account.  Sometimes that can be a long way ahead in the distance and over time, we start falling off the bandwagon and our goal is a lost cause.

Knowing when your goal will be reached allows you to set mini-goals, or target dates, for measuring your progress.  So when it comes to saving your $500, you want to have that full amount at the end of 6 months.

That can give you 6 mini goals to reach for in the meantime!  That $500 can be an awfully daunting task, but broken down into 6 month accomplishments ($84/month) doesn’t seem that bad!  Plus that gives you a reason to celebrate as you reach your goal!

Make Your Goal a Dream Come True

Now that you have a goal in place, it’s time to take action and make it come true.  That does not happen overnight and it isn’t always easy.  Saving $84, or whatever goal you set for yourself, can be very difficult.  That is why your goal needs to be realistic, so you can make it happen.  There will have to be some attitude and habit adjustments, but you can do it!  Keeping your goal and your path to get there in a visible place where you can easily see it will help to keep you motivated and drive positive behavior.

Get Real

Realistic that is.  Your goal should be based on what you are able and willing to work towards.  Setting a low goal that requires no work will hardly get you far.  Saving $5/month will only net you $30.  Where’s the motivation for that?  On the other hand, when you are struggling to make ends meet at the end of each month, setting a goal to save $200/month will never be more than just an idea that would be nice to do.

Accountability Partner and Commitment

You have set your goal and determined to reach it – and only you can stand in your way.  You have to be committed.  When we all crave immediate satisfaction, it is very difficult to wait around for the long term reward.  Hopefully reaching for your mini goals will continue to keep you heading in the right direction.

If the cutest shoes or the hottest video game seem to derail you, pal up with someone you trust.  Let them in on what you’re trying to accomplish and that you need their help.

People enjoy being needed! Now you have an accountability partner.  If you’re at the mall and there some glimmering object just calling your name, don’t answer to the object!  Call your partner and tell them that you need their help walking away from the glitter.  The key here: don’t select an accountability partner that encourages habits that go against reaching your goal!

So with the New Year now in full swing, it is up to you to break the tradition of breaking your resolution!