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Accomplish your goals in these steps
Though January is the most popular time for goal setting, it’s never too late to sit down with a pen and paper and do a little practical dreaming. Today’s blog is from an Instagram live I did at the end of 2021, but fortunately for you, this practice is for anyone, any time of year.
Goal setting is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Big or small, your goals help you become the person you want to be and live the life you want to live. It isn’t guaranteed that every goal you have will happen exactly as you planned, and it’s also likely that your goals will change as you start working towards them –– but you’re so much better off for having set them and changed when life demanded it rather than never setting them at all.
So, do yourself a favor and grab a paper and pen, open the notes app on your phone, or start a Google Doc on your computer. This goal-setting guide is going to take you through my favorite goal-setting method, that will help you set actionable goals for 2022 and the years ahead.
BONUS: You can follow along with this handy worksheet!
Let’s get into it!
P.s. if you’d rather listen, you can watch the IG live here!
P.p.s A great place to start with your financial goals is our Badass Budget Spreadsheet! It contains a whole tab for goals (payoff and savings) and spaces for making notes such as goals you may have!
Start with these two truths
First up, I want you to write at the top of the page a mantra I follow and remind myself of often: A goal without a plan is a wish.
Sure, you can set your goals and have all the intention in the world of seeing them come to fruition –– but if you don’t have a plan for your goals, it won’t matter one bit how much you want it.
Got it? Great! Next up, directly underneath that, write: Nothing changes in life unless I change it.
Especially when it comes to money, we’ve been told our whole lives that we should just know how to handle it. We should know what to do with it when we get it, and if we don’t, we’re somehow less than or unworthy of it. Unfortunately, there is no money fairy to come handle our finances for us (if only).
This can be a scary realization, that we are ultimately completely responsible for our money. Of course, each of us faces different struggles systematically when it comes to finance. The experience of BIPOC, LGBTQIA, disabled, and other minority groups will be nuanced.
But regardless of where you’re starting or what you’re up against, the statement above is true. Things do not change unless you change them.
3 things to remember when setting goals
One of the ways you may be hampering your progress with your goals is by not getting incredibly specific about what you want. It’s not enough to say “I want to save money” or “I want to eat better” –– you need specific language. Instead, you might say, “I will save $5,000 this year” or “I am going to cook at home five nights a week.” These are SO much more specific, and you’ll know immediately if you’re off track.
Here are a few finance specific goals to help you get started:
I am going to max my Roth IRA this year
I am going to save $10,000 this year in an HYSA
I am going to pay off all of my credit card debt this year
I am going to pay $5,000 towards my student loans in the next six months
I am going to save $100 a month
I will get a 10% raise this year
Make it timely
You can see in the examples above that there is a time limit. Whether it’s by the end of the year or by a certain month, putting a time limit on your goals helps you stay on track.
The good news? Even if you don’t make your time perfectly, you’re still working towards it. So what if it takes 14 months instead of 12 to pay off your debt? Be proud of the progress, even if the timeline changes.
Get clear on your why
I’m not just talking about “BeCaUsE I wAnNa” or other vague answers here. Dig deep, deep down, and find your “why” for whatever goal you set for yourself.
WHY do you want to pay down debt? Will it help you build your credit and open new financial opportunities? Allow you to save for that vacation you’ve always wanted to take? Give you a healthier mindset around finances?
I really mean it –– get as specific and emotionally connected to your why as possible. For example, maybe you want to save for a down payment, so you can buy a home and settle in your favorite city. Maybe you want to save $10,000 for your emergency fund so you can finally quit your toxic job.
Whatever the reason, it should be the motivating factor in your goal. It’s easy to think the goal is enough without the why –– but when you don’t have a strong why it’s so easy to fall off with your goals.
Without your strong why, when the first week of frustration comes along where you start feeling less motivated by the “new year, new you” energy, it’ll be too easy to just scrap the whole plan. When you have a strong why, you won’t feel as affected by days, weeks, or even months when you get off track.
Creating reminders and visuals
I am not the first to tell you to make a dream board, and I will certainly not be the last. So here goes: make a dream board. Whatever the physical manifestation of your personal goals look like, pin those suckers to a corkboard or create a vision board from a template in Canva. Take all the skills you learned cutting out magazine photos of Harry Styles or Aaron Carter or who-tf-ever and put them to work.
Write yourself a check for your savings goal, print out your credit card reports, and write in a zero balance. Put photos of your dream vacation, your dream wedding, your car paid off, your dream house –– whatever it takes.
I personally love putting post-it notes on my mirrors and all around my house — little reminders of my whys and pick-me-ups to get me through tough days.
One of the best ways to know very quickly if your goal needs adjustments is to work backward. Let’s say you’re hoping to pay off $6,000 in six months. You’ll need to put aside $1,000 a month or $500 a paycheck to hit that goal.
This is an excellent time to ask yourself –– is this goal realistic? How can I make sure that I put aside $500 a paycheck? Is this goal too ambitious? Is it not ambitious enough? Only you know your financial situation and the answer to that question.
Final step: automate
We’re gonna tackle your anxiety monster the easiest way I know how, and that’s to automate as much as possible. Automating your savings goals or debt payments means that you won’t give yourself the chance to fall behind. There’s a reason they call it set it and forget it.
Most major banks let you automate your payments, and you can set them so the money comes out of your account as soon as you’re paid, so you never miss it. The more you can automate, the better.
Consistency is the key (and the hardest part)
Right now, you’re probably feeling energized and ready to take on the world –– but there will come a day when you feel like shit. When your budget feels tight, or your goal feels too far away. The key here is consistency, returning to your why, and trusting the plan you created for yourself. I find that staying organized and utilizing high quality tools helps me actually want to keep up my goals throughout the year. One tool that can help you keep track of and help smash your financial goals is our Badass Budget Spreadsheet.
I get asked all the time: what are your favorite money management tools?
Treasury: We’re building a one-of-a-kind, non-judgemental community where you can learn exactly how to invest, build wealth, and receive exclusive access to Her First $100K.
Ladder: Try Ladder— a smart (and affordable) term life insurance option that offers personalized pricing and flexible coverage so you can protect your family with ease. It takes about 5 minutes to apply and to see if you’re approved. If you’re between 20-60, you can get up to $8M in coverage.
Personal Capital: The tool I check daily, Personal Capital is the best tool for tracking your net worth and your progress towards goals like saving, debt payoff, and (yes!) $100K.
The $100K Club Facebook Group: Need some honest money conversations in your life? Join my free community to get your burning questions answered.