If you’re like most people, you’re making some financial New Years resolutions right about now. You’re thinking about ways to improve your finances. You’re vowing to “stop worrying about money” and make some real changes—but resolutions are likely all you’re making.
If you really want to get the things you want, don’t bother making bad financial New Year’s Resolutions. Try annual goal setting instead.
Here are some of my Goal-Setting Golden Rules. If you follow these, you’ll maximize the chances of getting what you want:
- Write goals down.
I use Evernote, a searchable database of my notes. I’ve got all kinds of things recorded there—blog post ideas, notes from meetings, idea-storming results with my team.
It’s here, too, where I store my goals, year over year. I have access to the lists of things I said I wanted to achieve.
Sometimes, when I’m ready to initiate a project on the goal list, I put dates beside the goals, and marry them to the calendar.
Then, I can create a project management plan and make sure I’m moving forward.
Sometimes, then, I use another piece of free software, Trello, and turn goals into activities and deadlines.
This way, my todo list also has a list of my goals, and I can always evaluate how I’m using my time.
Activities have to tie to actions that help me achieve what I want in my life and in my business. All of my activities are tied to my goals and my desire to achieve them.
- Make Goals specific
This week, lots of people will make bad financial New Year’s resolutions that they want to make more money. Then, they might start finding pennies on the street.
While pennies are good to bend and pick up, and they do, technically qualify as “more money”, to state an exact goal in specific terms is much more measurable, enjoyable and achievable—not to mention faster.
To maximize the chances you’ll get what you want, make your goals specific, measurable and clear. Use specific language. Declare your exact intentions—and write them down.
- Review your Goals often.
This is VERY important—goals that don’t get reviewed get forgotten.
I review my goals most mornings before I start email or other work. I do this just after or right before I check my bank balances in all of my accounts. (I do this daily—and recommend you do to).
You can keep a calendar reminder to review your goals each week or at the same time each day. You can keep a list of them in your smartphone using Evernote or another application that shares data between your computer and your smartphone.
You can do like I do, and keep your goals on a list in Trello that’s anchored, so you can evaluate your “todo” activities and make sure they’re aligned with your goals.
You can make signs and put them up in your office. You can make thermometers or pie charts and make a party out of coloring in your achievements.
The point is this—you don’t just set them and forget them. They’re not resolutions—they are goals. There’s a visual way to see you are achieving them. You’re in visual contact with each other often.
- Declare your Goals in the wider world
- You knowing what your goals are for yourself is one thing.
- Telling them to your Trello (by writing them down), or tracking them in Evernote is another thing.
- Making them visual in your office is another thing.
- Making sure your team knows what they are is also essential.
- Making sure your partner or spouse knows them.
Sharing your goals widely holds you to account and gives you someone you don’t know yet, who just might help you achieve them!
Goals are big deals. They’re inspiring and uplifting. They help you focus. They generate the framework for a fantastic story—a journey to fulfillment.
The bigger they are, the more people will be involved in making them achievable and attainable.
I totally want you to get what you want!
Be sure the people important to you in your world know what you’re up to, what your goals are, and what you are working to achieve. It helps them to feel included in your game of getting what you want with your one, true, beautiful life.
- Make Your Goals Count
Put something on the line. Don’t just write down the goal, write down why you want that result, what feelings it will produce in you, and as a bonus: write down what happens if you don’t achieve it.
Use your powers of creative visualization to really take on the details of what it feels like, smells like, looks like, tastes like, sounds like when you achieve your goals.
Take notes. This exercise will likely give you what you need to imagine the launch party or the achievement celebration at the end of the journey to obtaining the goal.
Don’t be afraid to make use of the Charles Dickens’ convention of the Ghosts of Christmas past to see what happens when your life goes horribly wrong when (if) you get off track and out of alignment with your dreams.
Use that imagined future as a way to stay focused and on target with what you really want to see happening in your one, true, beautiful life.
- Get on the Playing Court
Sometimes you get all suited up, and still watch people play from the sidelines.
I wanted to build Your Rich Retirement Academy for almost two years before I finally took action and did it.
I was afraid to fail. I had never built an online training program before, and it was easy to let it go another day undone.
Once I forced myself to get into action, however, things fell into place and momentum got created.
Now I’m surrounded by coaches, partners and team members who know my goals for myself and my business, and count on me to continue to take action toward achieving these dreams.
Now, I have a structure of support to keep me out of ruts. I have a game, and I’m playing full-out, and they are too!
As a way of “going first”, I’m declaring here for you, My goals for 2015:
- Qualify for the National Education Conference in 2016 by bringing my firm’s assets under management to $30,000,000. (This is a large financial advisory industry event and a significant one).
- Grow my email list of subscribers to 7,500 names. (This is a private list—never sold or shared with anyone outside of my company).
- Enroll 250+ people as students in my online training courses.
- Eat healthy consistently.
(Yes, I have a specific food plan here, but almost everyone has a different idea of what healthy eating is, so it’s not particularly relevant how I eat, the point is that I have an extremely detailed idea of what this ideal food plan is, I know when I’m on and I know when I’m off), but in moderation. Be 100% healthy 80% of the time. That’s my goal. Make sense?
- Schedule Quarterly 4-day, off-the-grid retreats for me and my husband (we’re not really a “weekly date night” kind of a couple, I’m more interested in concentrated periods of time to rejuvenate). These can be stay-cations or otherwise, but the point is that we schedule time and take it for each other.
- Create a ceremonious end to the work day.
Since my husband and I both work from home a lot, it can be tempting to disappear into the office and into the glow of the laptop screen, but that’s so bad for romance! So we agreed to verbally acknowledge the end of the day, and put technology away. Most of the time.
In the comments below, let me know what some of your goals are for 2015?
If you take just a few steps to stay sane at the holidays, it’s much easier to glide happily and productively into 2015, without that awful holiday hangover. No use in needing a vacation from your vacation!
I remember holidays past when I’d be at the mall, frantically shopping for 10 hours the day before my family Christmas celebration. I felt pressured, guilty, and stuck—I love my family but couldn’t seem to work out a way to show them and not channel my inner Ebenezer Scrooge.
These days, though, I shop early from the peace and quiet of the local coffee shop. I spend guilt-free from my holiday savings account and enjoy my drama-free holiday.
Here are my 9 practices that will surely help you stay sane during the holidays:
Most of us—some secretly—would love to have some more of it in our lives. If we’re being honest, we’d really like to build wealth over time and eventually achieve economic independence, but micro-managing day-to-day decisions can feel like a frustrating full time job.
What I’ve learned, though, over the course of my own journey to money Zen, is that getting in the weeds with your money isn’t required at all. Through plenty of experimentation, I’ve learned that keeping just a few principles front and center makes all the difference.
I’ve also interviewed dozens of millionaires, and you’d be surprised to know that very few of them use spreadsheets, calculators, abacuses or slide rules to stay on the right financial track.
First, you need the right mindset.
Your Number One Job is to Grow Your Wealth
Rule No. 1: Never lose money
Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1
~Warren Buffett, The Most Successful Investor Alive
Success! You are already successful! In fact, the only thing you’ve ever experienced, despite what you might THINK, is a state or stage of success or success-in-progress. As the great, often quoted Yoda once said, “There is no try,” and as it turns out, there is no failure either…
Success: The truth about why you’ve never failed at anything
I watch my cat in the backyard. He is a hunter. He eyes his prey—a bird? A mouse? He watches carefully. He notices movement. He anticipates where the prey will go when he pounces. He puts his whole body into the act. It’s rare that he brings me a kill—though over the years he has gotten better, more birds and mice have lived than died at the paws of my pouncing cat.
Despite the cartoon life of cats, the actual beasts rarely take to the couch and bemoan their failures.
In Zen Buddhism, students learn from kōans. A kōan is a thought provoking story, question, or statement that delivers powerful insights when understood through intuitive thinking. An example of one of the most well-known kōans is:
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
The profound truth where the student finally arrives is this: “The sound of one hand clapping is (simply) the sound of one hand clapping.”
A thing is simply what it is, nothing more and nothing less.
And thus we move toward true enlightenment: the state of Zen.
Breaking bad habits is something even the most accomplished people struggle with. And being successful once doesn’t make you immune.
Personally I’ve had success breaking my bad money habits, but still struggle with occasional bouts of disorganization and unhealthy eating. Having bad habits is frustrating, but breaking them isn’t impossible.
If you’ve ever been frustrated trying to change a spending or saving habit that doesn’t support your ultimate financial goals—cut yourself a break. This article offers amazing insight into why changing habits can seem so difficult.