There’s a lot of talk around the new year about setting new goals and revitalizing old ones. Each January, we declare that this is the year where we will get healthier, get a better job or take that dream vacation. As always, life takes over and we often forget the goals we set until the next new year rolls around. How can we work to make realistic goals, and more importantly, actually reach them?
No matter the type of goal you decide to set, there are a few basics that can help maintain your trajectory and reach the finish line. Goals can be short term or long term, but should be very specific. For example, your overall goal may be to save enough money for a down payment for your first home, but what specifically does that goal mean? If you are looking for a starter home and are okay with a home needing improvements, that payment may be considerably lower than the down payment needed for a move-in ready new home. Doing a bit of research into exactly what your goal should be makes it more concrete and can help build the steps needed to attain it.
Goals should be real and attainable. There is nothing wrong with daydreaming (it’s actually really good for you to an extent), but creating a goal that isn’t reachable only sets you up for failure. Let’s consider this; if your goal is to get out of debt and you have a mortgage, student loans, credit card debt and a car loan, you may not be able to do that in a year. However, if your smaller, more incremental goal is to pay off a credit card while getting out of debt, you’re much more likely to be successful. Financially, goal setting should always start with making and maintaining a budget.
Being flexible is another benchmark for success in achieving a goal. If anything, the last few years have taught us that life doesn’t always go to plan. Let’s go back to the example of getting out of debt. If step one was to pay off your credit card by the end of the year, but you had unforeseen car repairs and used some of your extra income towards those repairs, that doesn’t mean you should throw your debt plan out the window. It simply means that your timeline needs to be readjusted and maybe your budget needs updating. Dealing with the interruption and resetting your focus should be your next step in meeting your goal.
Rewarding yourself when you meet your goals should also be part of your goal planning. Some say that the meeting the goal should be reward enough, but studies have shown that goals that have a reward are more likely to be met. That reward can inspire additional motivation when the going gets tough. These rewards don’t need to be expensive or even have a cost. It could be as simple as treating yourself to a dinner at your favorite restaurant or spending the afternoon doing an activity that you enjoy. Recognizing your accomplishment can help motivate you towards setting and reaching more goals.
If your goal is to rein in your debt in 2022, we’ve got you covered. With step-by-step instructions on how to create a budget and information on how to manage credit card debt, we’ve helped take some of the guess work out of how to get started. Your financial goals are important to us and our team is always ready to you make this year your best year yet!