Part 1 of a 3-Part Series on Goal Setting
How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions?
If you are like most people, then you may have already abandoned your resolutions or simply forgotten about them.
According to a study of more than 3,000 people who made New Year’s resolutions in 2007, 88% of participants failed to reach their goals by the end of the year. That means that only 12% of participants found success even though 52% were confident at the beginning of the year that they would achieve their goals.
I want to help you improve your odds of success.
Once you have decided that a change is necessary, you need to get clear on your goals in order to set yourself up to win.
In this three-part series, I will help you determine what your goals are, explain the importance of writing SMART goals, and help you develop an action plan to achieve the results you desire.
How Do I Determine What My Goals Should Be?
In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey declared that highly effective people “Begin with the end in mind.”
When determining what your goals should be, begin by dreaming about your ideal life. Close your eyes and think about what your life would look like if you could do, be, and have anything that you wanted.
Imagine your ideal life in the following seven key areas:
Write down whatever comes to mind in each of these areas. Focus on this for at least ten minutes and just write.
Consider your values and priorities and the legacy that you would like to leave behind.
I encourage you to think and dream big. If what you write feels unrealistic or outlandish, write it down anyway. As far as we know, we are only granted one chance at life so let’s make the most out of the opportunities we have been given.
Try to clarify each detail involved with living your best life. For example, if your dreams include obtaining financial freedom, get really specific about what that means to you. For my husband Mike and me, financial freedom means getting out of debt, having a solid emergency fund, and building wealth so that we can give generously without relying on a single source of income to provide for our family.
Keep writing until you have described the awesome life that you would love to live.
Congratulations! You’re done with the first step!
You have just written the start of what will eventually develop into your goals.
The truth is that we all have room to grow in every area of our life, but it can be overwhelming to think about changing each area of our lives all at once. And trying to make too many changes at one time can lead to burnout and a lack of progress in any area.
So how do you decide which parts of your life to focus on first?
Start with the one or two areas of your life that require the most urgent and important changes.
For example, if you are neck-deep in debt, the sooner you make a plan to get out of debt, the more time and money you will have to save and invest for a comfortable retirement. Your dream of redecorating your house can be put on the back burner for now while you focus on getting out of debt. This will enable you to have the funds available later so that you can redecorate without any added burden to the financial portion of your life.
Save what you have written down about the other areas of your life. You can revisit them after you have gotten some traction on your first set of goals.
Now that you have figured out where you are going, next figure out where you are.
Assess your starting point in each area so that you can best determine which road to follow to lead you to your desired destination.
Specifically, when it comes to spelling out your financial goals, I suggest completing the following steps:
- Calculate your current net worth. This will help you figure out areas in need of attention and is the best way to get really clear about the current state of your finances.
- Review the checklist for a strong financial plan. Any areas that are missing should be included in your financial goals.
When determining what your goals are in any area of your life, the clearer that you can become about what success looks and feels like, the more motivated you will be to achieve your goals.
After completing these steps you should have the foundation of your goals written down, but we are not done yet.
What About You?
Participate in the conversation. What does your ideal life look like in one of the seven areas of life? Share in the comments below.
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Those are important areas! I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I do find making SMART goals helps!
Monica Louie says
That’s great! I’ll be covering SMART goals next Tuesday!
It really shocks me how few people follow through with their goals by the end of the year! I don’t want to be one of them! These practical tips are great for helping me achieve the goals I’ve set out to achieve.
Monica Louie says
Thank you, Susannah! There is more to come next Tuesday! Stay tuned! 🙂
Marlynn [UrbanBlissLife] says
what a great exercise! Building a solid emergency fund is definitely part of my financial ideal.
Monica Louie says
Thanks, Marlynn! Later this year, we are going to focus on boosting our emergency fund, too!
Kelsey Wilburn says
i am actually going to be making an april “resolution” to revamp my savings, emergency fund, and start saving for some large items that need replacing! looking forward to being done with my wedding and having time to focus on that!
Monica Louie says
That’s great, Kelsey! Those are great goals! Good luck with the wedding and getting going on your goals. 🙂 I’ll be here if you need any help along the way!