Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Setting Reasonable Financial Goals

"Janine, I don't see how you do all the things you do?" I've been asked this so many times over the past 10 years. I really don't have a snappy come back or some magic cure for this question. I usually answer it with something incredibly mundane comment as "I write down my goals." This is not what most people want to hear, but it is the truth.

I am able to get so much done due to some wonderful guys like
Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar and Earl Nightingale. Back in the 80s when I was working in the corporate world, I had the fun of being able to attend a seminar given by Brain Tracy. I learned of Goal setting and Goal planning during that seminar and I haven't been the same since. I have been able to do more, have more fun and be more productive due to the books and CDs I ordered and implemented from these motivational experts.

Here is an article I wrote when I had a group of students ask me about setting goals and life plans. You'll see elements of the above teachers as well as stuff from
Hyrum Smith and Dr. Covey. I'm not saying any of this stuff is new, but it is amalgamated here after being tried, worked and digested for over 20 years. I hope it helps you in your goal planning.

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The major issue most people have with setting goals is that they aim too high, too far and expect WAY too much from themselves all in one lump. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years when it comes to setting goals.

1) Call them targets. Don't call them goals. I learned this in 1989 from Brian Tracy. Brian is a motivational speaker that was a salesman who learned how to make his goals a reality. He became financially independent and started traveling around the country giving seminars on how to create the life you want. He was the guy who first taught me that if you call goals “targets” you’ll win an internal battle every time. With targets you get “points” for getting close! With goals, just like in football, you only get “points” if you make it. You get a goose egg for missing. If you set a “target” for yourself and slip up, that’s not a bad thing because you’ll try again, you didn’t fail. Just by changing the name in my mind from goals to targets, I found myself celebrating every time I took a baby step toward my targets rather than getting all frustrated because I wasn’t moving fast enough toward a goal.

2) Make a hierarchy of targets and all the ways that you can move slowly to your ultimate goal. Let’s take my latest target of “exercise.” I wanted to eventually get to the point of lifting weights and doing aerobics for an hour a day. Well, since I haven’t done anything but walk and light exercise for the last four months, I knew that target was going to take some “building up” on my part. So, I sketched out a plan where I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day for a week, then I added sit ups and push ups the second week while continuing to walk the treadmill. By the third week, I would be ready for some aerobic work…and so on. Instead of going for the big “goal” up front, create a target and then work out the levels of tiny steps to give you a better chance of success.

3) Write your goals down. If you don’t bring these targets out of your head and post them on paper somewhere, they don’t really exist in our 4-dimensional world. It is a requirement that you write or type or paint a picture of your targets and post them where you see them every day! I know this sounds trite and maybe even patronizing. It is not meant to be. I write down my goals all the time. I have a new set for this quarter taped to the wall behind my computer monitor. That way, each time I look up, I see the list. It helps keep me focused and in line with what is important to me.

4) Don’t give up. When you slip up and miss a step (I do this all the time!) Don’t hang up your hat and call it quits! Keep at it. Maybe you tried to move to quick to your target. (This is usually where I mess up.) Step back a bit and take it slower. Maybe you had your steps out of sequence on the way to your target. Reevaluate your targets and steps and see if you’re trying to do too much in too many areas of your life. I suggest that you make no more than three major targets at any one time. I usually only have one or two that I work on at once, but for you type-A personalities, feel free to go as high as three!

Life is not an easy road, but it is made simpler by doing goal setting each week. I have my to-do list for each day, but once a week I look over what I have scheduled to do and then work out a plan on how to achieve what needs to be done. I must tell you. My plan rarely works out. I have to constantly adjust, amend and adapt. The one thing to remember in all this is make sure you keep giving yourself a pat on the back with each step, you’ll eventually find yourself celebrating the fact that you hit the bull’s-eye!

2 comments:

Moneymonk said...

Goals as targets...hmmm interesting.

I write down my goals as well. Rather it be short term or long term. When it is written down it seems more doable to me.

The Money Muse said...

MM: Not only have I found goals more doable by writing them down, it allows my brain to focus on getting them done rather than trying to remember them! I've been writing my goals for over 17 years now and I believe it is the single best exercise in getting things done that are important.