Setting goals is easy, but meeting them can be hard. Every financially responsible individual needs a plan for his or her finances, and setting and meeting goals is a key part of making that plan a reality. As 2019 moves along, it can be easy to let the financial goals you made earlier in the year slip away as responsibilities pile up and cash flow goes down.
It's never too late to reassess your strategy and develop a new plan. Calling a “redo" is never an easy thing to do when it comes to money, but it's important that your financial goals match up with your financial reality right now.
Whether your money goals are for yourself or for your business, zoning in on the ones that matter most is key to finishing the year strong. After all, it's better to fix what you can now rather than start 2020 feeling even further behind.
How to Achieve Financial Goals That Work for You
Simply setting goals doesn't make them worthwhile. Creating objectives that fit your overall mission is key to getting them accomplished in the right time frame. Here's how to do that:
1. Focus on the “why."
It may seem obvious, but picking relevant goals is fundamental to getting them done. Too often, goals are set arbitrarily and don't serve a purpose other than just representing an attractive number. Take the legions of people whose goal it is to be a millionaire. Making a million dollars is an achievable goal for some, but it doesn't mean anything outside of being a seven-digit number.
If you're hoping to really focus in on a goal you can achieve, ask yourself how that goal will benefit you or your business on a larger scale. A million dollars is nice, but it's what you would do with a million dollars that makes the goal worthwhile. Zone in not on specific, random numbers, but on goals that actually mean something. Getting ahead on your mortgage, fully paying off a credit card or contributing to a loved one's college savings are all concrete things that can be tangibly worked toward and have a natural conclusion, which makes them truly achievable and meaningful—you'll see the payoff.
2. Be realistic.
Long-term financial goals are vital, but it's meeting short-term goals that makes the long-term ones possible to begin with. Goals set for the end of the year are naturally going to be smaller and more focused than goals set for the end of the next decade, so don't make your plan from now until January 1 to try to achieve more than is truly possible (and sustainable).
One way of setting the right short-term goals is by putting them in the perspective of your long game. If you're hoping to pay off your house within the next five years, do the math. What do you need to do this year in order to stay on track? While it can sometimes feel like you need to get as much done as possible as soon as possible, keeping your short-term goals realistic prevents your long-term goals from seeming unachievable. One of the best ways to create and execute your year-end financial plan is to start with your large-scope plan and narrow it from there. You've got five months left of the year — break your goals into five portions to create more manageable stretches until the clock chimes in 2020.
3. Break things down.
Just like incorporating your 2019 plan into a larger, multi-year plan, it can be beneficial to break down your short term goals even further. If you know what you're hoping to accomplish by the end of 2019, what do you need to accomplish by the end of the summer? What about by the end of August or even by the end of a certain week?
Long-term financial goals are vital, but it's meeting short-term goals that makes the long-term ones possible to begin with.
Getting specific with the time frame of your goals makes it easy to check whether you're on track. It can also give you smaller milestones to celebrate, which can help keep you from falling off course for the rest of the year. Maintaining a goal without keeping a close eye on how well you're doing is liable to result in botched attempts and overly hasty cleanups. Constantly stay on the pulse of your financial situation in order to make sure you're staying focused on your goals.
No one knows the state of your finances better than you do, so it's important to shape your goals around your needs and capabilities. As tempting as it can be to try and solve every issue by New Year's, it's better in the long run to take stock of where you are now—and what you can do to move forward.
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