5 Keys for Setting Solid Goals
For me, each year seems to pass more quickly and the amount of distractions seem to increase as more and more technology makes its way into our lives.
I have found that having an organized plan can really help to guide me through some of this craziness. I also find having a plan is key in better managing 'lifestyle-creep'. However, developing a plan can be nearly impossible if you don’t know what your goals are in the first place.
Since I love financial planning and running, this article will focus upon these two areas specifically. If you’re not a runner, keep reading; I think you’ll easily see how my thoughts about goals can be applied to areas in your own life.
Of course, while I can't decide your goals for you, I can certainly provide you with a few reminders of important things to consider:
- reviewing your budgeting (and creating a budget if you don’t already have one)
- establishing files of key records and keeping them organized for loved ones
- reviewing insurance policies already in place and making sure your current coverage is adequate
- revisiting your beneficiaries to make sure they are updated and correctly identified
- maintaining an emergency fund (funding it, keeping it level, dealing with excess)
- identifying and keeping fitness and/or health goals (without good health it's tough to enjoy anything)
- saving for a vacation
- managing your preferences and goals for charitable giving
- funding your savings for financial independence or retirement
I have found that health and wealth run in a circle; the healthier you are, the better you do with your work and the things you love. In turn, the happier you are with your work and the things you love and value, you will find yourself with stronger physical and mental health. I want to do all that I can personally to enhance and strengthen this circle of health and wealth so that nothing can break it apart. Once I realized this several years back and started living it, my life changed drastically.
With that in mind, here is how I go about setting solid goals:
First of all, go with what feels right. What financial, or fitness goal would have the most meaning to you? What would make the biggest difference in your life? What pulls you? Make sure that you are very specific about this. Saving a specified amount of each pay check for a long hoped for bucket list trip or improving your time on a race you've run before. For me, I'd love to get my half marathon time down to 1:30. If I am running that well, I know that I will feel like a rock star and it will benefit other areas of my life.
Second, is the goal realistic? Is it challenging? How long will it take you to save enough for that 10 day trip to Australia? Are you really going to be ready to run your first marathon three months from now?
Third, if your goal feels like a good match for you and is realistic, make sure that the goal has an element of time associated with it. Time-linked goal setting really helps to keep you motivated and in ownership of the goals that you set.
If possible, break your goal into chunks. For example, this year I want to become a much faster runner while staying injury free. I cannot make this happen without breaking my training in to bite-sized chunks. To take it a step further, I have to determine what I must do each time I run in order to gradually reach my target.
Keep in mind though, that depending on the goal, you will likely need to alter your path to achieving it from time to time because life can sometimes get in the way.
Last of all, be sure to schedule time with yourself to revisit your goals and track your progress. I recommend doing this at least once per week, but you have to consider what will make the most sense for your life.
Once you’ve completed these steps in this goal setting exercise, you can now plan for 2016 (and beyond) depending on the goals that you set. Personally, I love having all of this wrapped up before the end of each year so that I can hit the ground running in the New Year.
Taking the time to thoughtfully set personal and financial goals can definitely feel overwhelming and daunting. It’s much easier to put off identifying and setting some goals until tomorrow, next week or next year. I promise you that taking the time to set solid goals suited to your needs and desires will be rewarding and worthwhile.
My wife, an avid hockey fan, loves that Wayne Gretsky quote: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I strongly encourage you to take the time to consider and set even just two or three goals for yourself for 2016. You can’t enjoy the rewards of scoring a goal if you don’t take any shots.
Should you have any questions, or if this exercise has left you thinking that you might need some assistance defining, setting, or achieving your financial goals, please do contact me and I'll be glad to help. And of course, if you'd like to discuss running or upcoming road races, I will certainly not stop you.
Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy and Successful 2016!