What are your goals? How are you going to reach them? What action can you take during the following year to achieve your goals?
Without goals, what kind of outcome will you get?
By floating through life without goals you’ll still reach an outcome, but it won’t necessarily be your desired outcome.
Even if you do make goals, you may still not reach your desired outcome without a solid plan on how to get there.
For example: your goal might be to run 5km. You write it down, you tell your friends, yet months later you still can’t run 5km because you never made an actionable plan.
Without goals you’ll float through life never achieving what you want.
Goals without actionable plans are similar to floating through life. You may know what you want, but it probably won’t happen.
However, a goal with a plan will more than likely lead to your desired outcome.
Goals And Habits
Goals and habits are intricately linked if you want to reach your desired outcome.
Your habits, informed by a plan, will lead you to your goal.
Before we saw with the running example that only stating your goal without a plan will not lead to the desired outcome.
Yet, with a plan that incorporates changing your habits your goals become much more attainable.
By declaring you are going to run 5km in two months time, backing it up with a solid plan, changing your habits to suit that plan, and sticking to your plan – you should eventually reach your desired outcome.
Ensure your habits are in alignment with your goal to reach success!
Areas Of Life For Goal Setting
Some people only make one goal for a very narrow area of their life. Ultimately, this leads to a lack of balance.
For example: if a person was always focussed only on saving and investing money to reach financial independence they will likely miss out on the richness that life has to offer them.
Money goals can still be achieved with other goals, as long as all the goals are in alignment with each other.
For example: you may be saving and investing as much money as possible and still have fitness goals and relationship goals.
By having fitness goals which involve spending little or no money, and by going on romantic frugal dates (yes, it can be done), you can still reach your financial goals.
When you have more than one goal, and they are in harmony with each other, the potential for personal growth is much greater.
This year, consider making goals in more than one area of your life for maximum personal growth. Here’s some suggestions to help you along:
- financial goals
- career goals
- professional development goals
- personal development goals
- relationship goals
- family goals
- health & fitness goals
- holiday goals
- sustainability goals
- community/volunteering goals
- spiritual goals
The first step is to write down your goals and leave them in a prominent place as a regular reminder to stay focussed.
At the end of each year at our place we write up our goals on a large piece of poster paper. We talk to each other about our goals so that we understand each other better and are on the same page.
Talking about goals also helps to make you accountable. We then pin up our goals next to the bed as a constant reminder.
The second step is to make your goal a SMART goal.
You’ll need to be specific about planning for your goal. If you merely say I’m going to start exercising next week, next week will never happen.
Be precise about your goal, make it a SMART goal.
In the running example used earlier, a SMART goal may look like this:
- Specific – Be able to run 5km in 2 months time
- Measurable – Use a free App to track your progress (Couch To Five Km)
- Achievable – Running 5km in 2 months is suitable for a beginner
- Relevant – It will improve your cardio fitness
- Time-Sensitive – Train Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6am for two months
Sometimes a goal can be so big that you don’t know where to start.
Make it a SMART goal by breaking it down into achievable chunks of mini-goals.
Start at the beginning with a simple plan and achieve that mini-goal. Then make the next plan by building on the last goal and keep going using this method.
In teaching, this method is called scaffolding. Begin with the foundation level and build on it bit by bit until you reach the desired outcome.
One of our combined marriage goals is to reach financial independence in at least 12 years – it’s a massive goal!
We first broke it down into a mini-goal of gaining control of our finances.
Our plan for began by working through the nine Barefoot Investor Steps. We made it specific by going on a date at the pub (food and alcohol) once a month to talk finances. You may think it funny to talk money over alcohol but it works!
We then focussed on reducing our spending and increasing our savings with the goal of saving at least 10% of our income. At this stage our combined income (before tax) was $85K. We did so well we saved more than 10% and still had money put aside for snow resort holiday (that was another goal – to learn to ski). Side note: I suck at skiing. [Edit: we’ve come a long way since that 10% savings goal and peaked 61% in 2020!]
During this time we also researched how to specifically invest our money in preparation for the next stage of our financial independence goal.
However, only saving around 10% of our income will not lead to financial independence in 12 years. We felt we had reduced our spending as much as was comfortable and it was time to earn more money. Fortunately, this coincided with our youngest child starting school.
The SMART goal for the next stage of reaching financial independence looks like this:
- Specific – Live off one full time wage. Save and invest the other full time wage, with 50% going on the mortgage, the other 50% being invested in index funds in the share market.
- Measurable – One wage is managed using the Barefoot Investor strategies. The other wage is tracked through the mortgage account and a shares portfolio.
- Achievable – We know we can successfully live off one wage so therefore our plan is achievable
- Relevant – This mini-goal will lead to achieving financial independence within our desired time frame.
- Time-Sensitive – It will stay in place until the mortgage is fully paid. After that stage, we will need to create a new mini-goal to reach the desired outcome.
At the end of each year, it’s a good idea to reflect on your goals. What worked? What didn’t work?
Were your goals achievable? Was the plan to reach your goal practical? What would you do differently?
Will any of your goals take multiple years to reach? Do you need to make any adjustments to your actionable plan?
Did you celebrate reaching the desired outcome of your goals, even your mini-goals?
Looking back at our own financial goals, I’m very happy with our progress. My health and fitness goals, not so much… I’ve ticked my personal goals for volunteering in the community, and living a more sustainable life, plus I’ve learnt how to create and maintain a blog website. We went on our family skiing holiday (a big tick there), yet my goal to improve my public speaking ability didn’t move forward.
I can see room for improvement. Reflecting on my goals helps making my new goals easier. I have a sense of direction of where I’m going and how I’m going to get there.
I see great leaps and bounds being made in the new year!
Please comment below with your goals for the new year. Are they SMART goals?
For more information on habits and goals head over to ChooseFI and have a listen to podcast 157: Atomic Habits: James Clear.