We’re a little more than a month into the new year so it’s a great time to check to see if you’re still taking steps towards achieving your new year’s resolutions and certainly, any of those personal finance goals you’ve established.
We can all use a few reminders and little nudges from time to time, right? I’m typically my own worst enemy. I often act on random ideas and find myself burning time on work that has nothing to do with my most important goals.
Oh well, the best thing to do is just roll with it and get back to what’s most important to you!
Tips to Achieve Personal Finance Goals
1. Create some resolutions - I know there are a few different camps as it relates to New Year’s resolutions. Personally, I think it’s great to create a few resolutions that will help you tell a better story at the end of the year. In my mind, they are high level. Again, these are stories you want to tell such as “improve the way you manage your money.” They will never stand alone as you’ll need to set some specific goals for them.
2. Identify 2 – 3 major goals - Considering the “improve the way you manage money” example and think of some goals that can help you achieve this resolution. Don’t pick too many, otherwise, it will be difficult to make progress. Here are a few examples: create a plan to get out of debt; create a budget and follow it consistently, invest 5% of pre-tax income in your company’s 401K plan.
3. Be as specific as possible - Try to rely on the SMART goal format. Make sure goals have these attributes: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This format will help insure you have a well written goal. You can Google SMART goals for more information.
4. Make them visible - I know for many people it helps to make their goals visible. I think this is a great idea! Ideas might include writing your goals on sticky notes and posting them on the fridge, office or even in your car. What about on a screen saver? I think being constantly reminded of your most important goals helps in keeping you motivated and on-track.
5. Create a list of tasks - Here’s where we get to the meat of the goals. Create a list of things to do that are required to achieve each goal. Creating a budget might include finding budgeting software, estimating your categories, balancing your budget, etc. The tasks make up your plan to achieve your goal.
6. Track your tasks - Probably my favorite tip is to use a task management system. I use “Remember the Milk” to create lists (per goal or project) to organize all of my tasks. I set due dates and the priority for each task. This is probably the most important thing to do to stay on focused. For example, if I’m working on my blog, or a project at work, I need to make sure I’m working on tasks that roll up to a real goal. If not, I’m likely burning unnecessary time on something that isn’t going to help me achieve my resolution, or create a better story for my career or small business.
This is far from a complete list of ways to achieve and stay focused on your personal finance goals, or really, any other goals. I’m hardly the expert. As I said, I veer of track myself, but do find these tips helpful to use.
What about you? What tips do you have with staying focused on achieving your personal finance goals?