5 Steps to Sure Fire Financial Goal Setting
It’s the middle of March already?! Wow. How did that happen?
This time often means one of two things: Either you’re killing it with your financial goal setting and you’ve paid off a bunch of debt, saved up that emergency fund and lost 30 pounds OR you’ve gone back to your old patterns and forgot all about those goals and intentions you set back in that first week of January.
If you’re in the latter group, I feel you, friend! For so many years I’d have the greatest of intentions! I’d set my goals, dust off my running shoes, and set my alarm for 6:30 am (that used to be crazy early for me!). I’d manage this pattern for a week. Maybe two.
But, NEVER into March! That’s like two and a half months!
I say that used to be me…because it’s not the me of today.
Today, I get up at 5 am every week day so I can do my morning routine and even get some work done before the kids get up. I exercise 6 days a week. I eat more fruits and vegetables than I EVER even thought possible for a human. AND, I have financial goal setting in place. With goals I’ve accomplished, and am STILL accomplishing. Every day.
I AM ABLE TO DO ALL OF THESE THINGS FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS.
First, I choose to do it. I REALLY like the way I feel and who I am after I accomplish these small tasks.
Second, these small goals are getting me closer to my ultimate Big Picture Dream and Vision for my life.
But mostly, I can accomplish all of these goals because I’m following the RIGHT way to set goals.
Yep. You heard me correctly. There is a right way for financial goal setting, or any personal goal setting for that matter!
I wanted to give you an opportunity to do a total New Year’s Goals Reset. It’s March when I write this, but, honestly, no matter what time of year it is, and whether or not you’re resetting or starting out from scratch, my process will help you sort out your true goals and intentions. AND, create an action plan that will help you achieve your goals NOW!
This stuff works, friends. It will work for your health goals. It will most definitely work for your financial goal setting. Any area of your life you’d like to improve, use this process to move you forward!
STEP 1: REFLECT & CELEBRATE
To create Goals that will actually matter to you, (and that you’ll actually want to stick to) you first need to reflect and celebrate how far you have come. Whether you look back to your 2018 intentions, or the goals you made as a 20-something undergraduate, this first step connects you to a moment driven by hope and desire (powerful juju) AND asks you to be kind to yourself.
Sure, you might be a ways from your intention of paying off all your credit cards or running a half-marathon, or losing some baby pounds, but don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees.
My mentor, recently reminded me of this when I shared my sense of frustration around some SLOOOOWWWW progress toward my goals for Greatest Worth. “Are you focusing on the gap?” she asked. “The gap is the distance between where you are and where you want to be.” We discussed how The Gap will win. Every. Time. Instead, she reminded me, it’s critical to build time into every part of my day to celebrate the small things I did to take another step toward my goals. Small though they might be.
Step 1 asks us to do the same thing, on a grand scale. Set aside some time just for you – you’re worth it! – and look back over the past 2 months, or 2 years or 2 decades and write down those moments of movement and progress. Celebrate your wins, small or large, lasting or fleeting, and bring honest kindness to the table.
After all, the judgmental self-condemnation isn’t getting you anywhere.
STEP 2: CREATE YOUR BIG PICTURE
Creating your Big Picture Dream is how to create goals that 1) actually matter to you, 2) are achievable, 3) you’ll actually want to keep working towards and 4) will actually move you forward towards that amazing dream of yours!
Wait, what? You don’t know what your Dream is? No problem. Let’s get to work figuring that out!
Let’s create YOUR Dream. Or, as I often refer to it, you big picture vision!
Answer this question:
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN 10 YEARS?
This is a “no-limits, all the money in the world, all opportunities are available to you” kind of dream. Don’t think about your current financial situation or your current life sucking job. Think about what your absolute perfect utopia would look like.
Make it real. Ensure it feels so real that you can’t help but work towards it. Make it everything you’ve ever wanted.
It’s got to be SO good that it keeps you getting up at 5 am every morning, right?! Just kidding. Sortof. You don’t HAVE to get up at 5 am to accomplish your goals. An early morning routine is the path I’ve chosen for myself and it has changed my outlook on the day and overall my life. (Also, there is evidence that getting up early may lead to success! But no pressure! I just want to share what has worked for me)
Seriously. No pressure
STEP 3: S.M.A.R.T. FINANCIAL GOAL SETTING
Setting goals that aren’t specific or measurable will only lead to frustration and…ultimately, failure.
SMART stands for
A: Action Steps
T: Time Frame
When you start your financial goal setting with all 5 of these aspects, you’re pretty much guaranteed to nail it!
There are a couple of things I’d like to clarify to ensure your success.
REASONABLE means that a goal has to actually be attainable by a human in your situation. Setting a goal to save $100 in 1 week may or may not be reasonable. It all depends on what your income is for the week. If you’re making $300 / week – it’s likely not reasonable with all of the other expenses you have. But if you make $1000 / week – finding a way to save $100 is totally reasonable!
I’ve stopped making goals that have an annual time frame. Waiting a whole year to see if you actually achieve them is not sustainable. It’s like you’re setting yourself up for failure.
My favorite way to set the time frame for goals now is to turn annual goals into 12-week goals (quarterly goals). I learned about this process from The 12 Week Year. It’s a quick read and will break down this philosophy of thinking quarterly, and why it’s helpful for goal setting.
I like a good quick win as much as anyone else! Knowing that I can break an annual goal down into quarterly goals and then those quarterly goals down into weekly goals means I get to see my progress weekly.
Also, I know if I reach my goal before the week is up, I can start working towards my next weekly goal sooner and increase my efficiency.
I can’t say enough good things about that book. So good. Basically, change your time frame to something actually achievable. The author talks about it being 12 weeks, but maybe for you it’s 8 weeks. Just decide on a time frame that works for you and get going!
STEP 4: SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
This step is actually broken into two steps.
First, after you’ve set your goals, take some time and decide on some strategies you’ll use to help set yourself up for success.
Perhaps your goal is to save $1000 in 6 weeks to put aside for your emergency starter fund.
Break this down into weekly goals – each week you will need to save $167. Then, get even more specific and say: “Week 1 I will save $100 by not eating out all week long and $30 by eliminating Target runs and $30 by making birthday gifts for my kids’ friends’ birthday parties.”
Super specific. And reasonable. The time frame is in place. Definitely measurable and you know the action steps you’ll need to take to sock that money away in your emergency fund!
Boom. Goal achieved.
STEP 5: BRAINSTORM SOLUTIONS
This one may seem a bit silly to do right now, and maybe you don’t need to do it now. Maybe this step will come in a couple weeks into your 12-week goals.
As you move into the work, you’ll start to see “obstacles” that are getting in the way of your success. This is your opportunity to brainstorm ways around, or through or over this obstacle. Then pick one or two actions you can take to continue moving forward.
For example, perhaps you have to drive by Target 4x/day and you usually stop and have coffee there. You recognize that this pattern is getting in the way of your goal to save up your emergency fund, so have some fun and brainstorm ways to shift the auto-pilot.
What is another route you can take to the kids’ school? How can you pack some coffee in a thermos at home? Where can you shop for toilet paper that won’t pull you into these entrenched habits?
The siren call of Target may be too much for you right now. (I’m talking from experience here.) For years. I just couldn’t go there! So many shiny, beautiful things. Everywhere. All in one place. I mean, Joanna has a line there now. Need I say more?!
If you spend money mindlessly when you’re AT Target, figure out ways to AVOID Target. For now anyway.
Remember your big picture vision is WAY more awesome than any throw pillow or side table you can get at Target. Sorry, Joanna
But it’s true! Aren’t your dreams more important than home decor? Of course they are!
Alright! That’s it! My 5 step plan to achieving your dreams and setting goals you’ll actually keep!
Don’t forget to download my workbook. It will help you reset and walk you through your very own goal setting process – and you’ll have everything in one place! And, don’t underestimate the power of writing your goals down – there is positive power in the act of setting things down on paper.
Click the box below and get started. Your dreams matter. Your finances matter in order to attain those dreams. You’ve got this!
I’m rooting for you!