January is a funny time of year. There’s a tendency to get super psyched about goals and resolutions in the middle of a holiday hangover.
One of the reasons so many New Year’s goals are abandoned by the end of the month is because they lack the proper planning and foundation.
It’s like trying to run a 5K when you’re still tipsy from the night before.
How can you worry about tomorrow when you’re still detoxing from December?
The good news is you can recommit to your goals at any time. Now that you’ve had time to return to equilibrium, you can start building a solid foundation for your financial future.
1. Start by listing all of your financial goals
They can be anything from “I want to pay off my student loans” or “I want to take a cruise,” to “I want to buy a new car.”
Go crazy. Dream big. Write it all down and get inspired while you create your list.
2. Identify the next steps
Once you’ve got it all written down, it’s time to break each goal apart. How much time and money do you need to accomplish that goal? What can you do now to take one step closer to achieving it?
By setting a time frame and breaking down the actions needed to get there, you’re creating a map from your present to your dreams.
If I take my goal of “I want to pay off my student loans” and add a deadline of five years, then my next step would be to calculate how much I would need to pay each year to make that goal a reality.
I would then need to break it down into months. After that, I’d have to work that number into my monthly budget either by finding and designating savings to the loan repayment or by generating enough extra income to meet the monthly target.
Once the steps are in place, your goals will transition from being distant dreams to being motivated actions grounded in reality.
You may not have the resources to tackle all of your goals at once, so create a system of prioritization to help you.
Divide your goals into categories: financial security, education, career, leisure, etc., and rank your goals in order of importance within each one.
This system will allow you to maintain a balance between necessity and fun while still making your top goals a priority.
4. Follow through
Now that you’ve defined your goals, how to achieve them and the order in which you’ll attack them, it’s time to commit to following through.
The best thing you can do is create a system of accountability to yourself. This can be done through rewards, a support system or by going public with what you plan to achieve.
With the foundation and steps in place, you’re sure to rise to the challenge of any financial dream you’re willing to commit to.
Photo source: money.cnn.com
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