Goals: Let’s Get Started

I hope you enjoyed reading the book, Now What?  A Practical Guide to Figuring Out Your Financial Future.  I may be presuming that you had if you are reading this blog, but if not I would encourage you to pick it up and give it a spin (I enjoyed writing it and communicating much of what I know about financial issues).

The one area I would have liked to spend more time with is Goals.  As long as I can remember, I have been a person who sets goals, both personal and professional.  I believe it is a healthy practice unless of course you hope to never grow, advance or improve.  If this is the case, you should probably stop reading and go back to scrolling through your feed on your phone.

If you are still with me, let’s review the prime components of setting goals.  They must be specific.  This means that you need to be clear about what your goal is.  “Eat healthier” is not specific.  What does this mean?  One salad per month?  Less fast food?  Change my diet to one that is sustainable may be closer.  Which brings us to the second point of goal setting.  They must be measurable.  This means that you can quantify your efforts.  “Choose healthy meal options for 80% of my meals” is an example.  Another way to express the measurable component, would be “go down two dress sizes” (I don’t know if that is a thing, but let’s say it is) or “lose two inches around my waist” (I know for certain that is a thing).

I almost forgot.  Part of measurable needs to be a timeframe.  The shorter the timeframe the more realistic.  90 days is about perfect for most goals.  Think of it as a sprint, 90 days of doing something is possible.  What I have found is that as soon as I start to see the results from my effort, I am motivated to continue.  The same will be true for you.

So, goals need to be specific and measurable.  Next, they need to be achievable, which means that it is within your control of attaining.  For me, winning the 100 meter freestyle Olympic Gold Medal is not in the realm of attainable and I would only be setting myself up for failure.  I don’t like setting myself up for failure.  I was told that reasonable goals are ones that you may have an 80% probability of hitting.  If you make it too easy, its not meaningful enough for you to put any effort towards.  Spoiler alert:  I have failed at more goals than I have succeeded at over my life, but I have hit far more than if I set zero.

Finally, your goal should be compatible.  This means that your goal must fit naturally with who you are.  It should be a reflection of who you are and more importantly who you see yourself as in the future.  If you have not heard the message that I was raised on, “you can be anything you want to be, your only limits are your own,” let me tell you those words are true.

It is important to visualize the person you want to be in order to figure out which goals are the most important.  Be specific in this visualization too.  Who are you with?  What are you doing? What do you feel like after hitting your goal?  This visualization exercise puts you in the future and your actions, motivations and consistent work will bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

I don’t care about your background, the obstacles you may face, or whatever limitations you have already set, you can overcome them.  But you will only overcome them with diligent work, visualization, and proper goal setting.  Without these things, you will likely remain in the comfortable rut in which you currently find yourself.  If you are ok with that, that’s cool too.  It’s just that my worldview is one in which, life is short, and the saddest thing to me is complacency.

Maybe, you have never had anyone to believe in your dreams.  In fact, I have known people who were raised in an environment in which their dreams were belittled and smashed before their very eyes.  Generally speaking, these dream smashers are little people who are very insecure, and perhaps they are motivated by keeping you safe by not trying.  That is a generous view of their motivations, but regardless, you can do it.  I believe in you!

This is not some trite, motivational poster, kind of belief.  It is true.  I believe that you can and should plan on growing, improving and becoming the person that you were always meant to be.  Setting goals and breaking out of the rut, are the surest ways I know how to make that change.  If you don’t have people in your life to support your goals, reach out to me, and I will be your cheerleader.  I believe in you and hope for nothing but the best for you.

Do something great.