Setting financial goals is vital to achieving the financial success you desire. You can set new financial goals at any time. For a new year, a new season, a new month, a new week or even a new day. You just need to have the desire to accomplish the goals you set. So let’s talk about exactly how to go about setting goals the right way!
But first up, a quick refresher on why you need to have goals in the first place.
Why you need to set financial goals
1. Setting financial goals is how you achieve the big vision you have for your life. The dreams and desires you have are usually only achievable if you have the financial capacity to do so. And having that capacity means creating a roadmap of how you'll get there - hence the importance of goals.
2. The right goals will help you track the progress you make towards your big vision. If you don't have goals, you don't know what to track. Tracking your progress helps you determine how close you are to your goals (or how far away you are from them) and what you may need to adjust to make additional progress.
3. Accomplishing your goals will motivate the heck out of you to do even bigger and better things. There's nothing like achieving a goal to get you excited about what you can accomplish next. It's like fuel to your fire!
The foundation of financial goal setting the right way
Now let’s talk about setting your financial goals the right way!
1. Whatever your goals are, they need to be measurable. If you can’t measure it, how will you gauge your progress? You need to clearly state what you want to achieve, by when and what you need to do each week or month to reach your end goal.
2. Your goals need to be realistic. Don’t create unachievable odds for yourself. Yes, your goals should be challenging and outside of your comfort zone but no, they should not be ridiculous or unattainable. If saving $5,000 a year is easy for you, then why not make your goal $10,000? But setting a goal to save $1,000,000 when saving $10,000 is already a stretch...well you catch my drift!
3. You need to write your goals down. There's some magic to putting pen to paper and writing down what you want to accomplish. Writing your goals down gives them life and they’ll become even more significant when you see them on paper.
How to achieve your financial goals
Let’s say your goal is to save an extra $10,000 over the next 12 months. Well, you already know that money isn’t just going to fall in your lap. Once you break your goal down, you’ll need to save about $830 each month.
In order to actually accomplish this goal, you’ll need to fit it into your budget, figure out where to cut back, think of ways to possibly increase your income and make consistent deposits to maximize your results.
These different small steps add massive value towards moving you in the direction of the $10,000 savings goal you want to accomplish. But knowing all of this, how do you ACTUALLY DO IT?
Answer: Pick one thing you will do or one action you will take at the beginning of every single day that will get you closer to your goal. This one thing doesn’t need to be the same thing everything and some examples could include:
- Making a savings deposit
- Setting up automatic transfers
- Reading a financial book
- Checking in your accountability partner
- Having a no-spend day
Doing this daily one thing, added together over time, will lead you directly to your goals even if you experience setbacks.
Critical mistakes to avoid in order to achieve your financial goals
Next, I want to share some critical mistakes you should avoid at all costs in order to achieve those financial goals you have set for yourself. Why? It’s important to recognize the things that could cause you NOT to achieve your goals.
These things are the reason millions of people never achieve their financial goals and being aware of them will help you avoid making the same mistakes. So here goes:
Mistake 1 - Ignoring the small goals: Think saving $10 a week or paying $50 to your credit card this month is a blip not worth tracking? As small as those small goals might seem, they matter so make them, track them and celebrate them when you achieve them. They can add up to major progress over time.
Mistake 2 - Focusing solely on long-term goals: Yup! You read that right. Having long-term goals is essential to defining your big picture but if you don’t break these goals down into smaller chunks that you track on a daily, weekly monthly or quarterly basis then it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you are making no progress at all.
Mistake 3 - A lack of accountability: When you are not accountable, there’s no one to motivate you, remind you or keep you focused on what you are trying to accomplish. As a result, you might start getting complacent, pushing things off and find yourself in the perpetual state of getting things done “later” or worse still, telling yourself you can’t do it.
Mistake 4 - Not checking in on your goals: How do you make progress with what you don’t track? Checking in on your goals is a must.
Mistake 5 - Dismissing your progress: Just because your progress was small doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Not everything you do will result in massive strides, but as with point one, it all adds up.
Mistake 6 - Not getting back up after you slip: Don’t settle for a situation because you made a mistake, overspent or bought something you shouldn’t have. Give yourself the grace to recognize your error or mistake, remember your why and get back to work!
7 Things you can do today to ensure you achieve your financial goals and succeed with your finances
Now, here are 7 things to do today to ensure that you succeed with your finances:
1. Go way out of your comfort zone: Comfort zones suck, they keep you stuck and get you nowhere - obliterate yours and step all the way out in order to achieve your financial goals! Yes, you might hate it at first but the outcome will be so worth it!
2. Get sick of mediocre crap in your life: If mediocrity has been your story for the last year or the last several years, now it’s time to do things differently. You are not destined to be broke or to fail or to be bound by your negative family history. You can be the difference, the breakthrough, the success story! BUT you have to get sick and tired of mediocre and decide to make changes.
3. Face your triggers head-on: You probably know who or what causes you to slip up when you find yourself slipping up on your financial goals(and if you don’t then start observing what’s happening each time you slip up). Identify those triggers and then come up with a game plan to avoid them and minimize the slip ups!
4. Lay those goals out: We’ve already talked about this in previous emails but I just have to reiterate - lay your goals out, break them into chunks, track your progress.
5. Set yourself up for success: Put your goals where you can see them, automate your savings and bill payment, get your accountability partner on board, find the resources that will help you (Hint: Join Clever Girl Finance) and decide that you will succeed!
6. Be okay with failure: Because you will fail, you will fall and you will falter and it’s ok. The silver lining behind it all are the lessons you will learn. Take the lessons and apply them to your next steps.
7. Rinse and repeat: Once the novelty of the new year has worn off and you start feeling blah. Find this list and rinse and repeat!
Make your goals easy to achieve
With all of that being said, as you probably know, accomplishing your goals is easier said than done but there’s no reason why it can’t actually be easy. Here’s how:
1. Focus on your schedule of actions, not the goal deadline: Sometimes focusing on a deadline can make it seem like what you want to accomplish is so far away that you have plenty of time to get things done “later”.
But then all of a sudden, it’s so close that it’s too late to do anything. When you focus on your schedule of actions for the big goals (that you’ve broken down into chunks and are tracking daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly), you are more likely to do what’s required to accomplish your goals as a result of your consistent actions. This leads me to my next point.
2. Focus on the actions, not the performance: The actions you take carry more weight than the actual performance. Why? Well, the performance might not always be perfect but the actions you take consistently (like budgeting, saving money on a schedule, making consistent payments towards your debt etc) will help you get better each time and improve your overall performance.
And that’s it. These two things can make all the difference when it comes to making those goals you’ve set super easy to accomplish.
Setting financial goals the right way and going after them is your opportunity to achieve your wildest dreams, blow your expectations our of the water and make real progress towards your financial success.
Here's to setting some amazing goals - Let's go!