Guidebook to Setting Achievable Goals
We won’t sugar coat it — achieving your goals isn’t always easy. But if you don’t create a plan based on your goals, you’re only making it harder on yourself. In fact, American’s with a plan in place are more likely to make positive progress towards achieving their goals. In a recent survey, 56 percent of people with a plan in place reported making good or excellent progress towards their savings needs, compared to only 24 percent of those who didn’t.1
Give Your Goals a “Why”
Placing a reason behind the goal can be a big motivator in achieving it. Think about the difference between “I want to pay my student loans off faster” and “I want to pay off my student loans faster so my wife and I can buy a house and start our family.” Remembering why you’re passing up on those concert tickets this month can help make your sacrifices a little easier to make.
Make Your Goals Measurable
Ambiguity won’t be your friend as you work to set financial goals. Focus on being as specific as possible instead, your goals should have a measurable and definitive finish line. This will help you track your progress and feel a sense of accomplishment once you achieve your goals. For example, if you have a goal to save money for a down payment on a new car, choose a number. Instead of saying “I want to save some money and buy a new car next year,” try “I will put $250 in a separate savings account for the next 12 months that will be used as a down payment for a new car.” This provides a clear, definitive goal that you can track month after month.
For intention goals that are hard to define, commit to building a habit. For example: if you want to start a daily yoga or meditation session, commit to building a habit of doing it. According to science, it takes 18 to 254 days to build a habit with an average of 66 days.2 Our recommendation is to commit to 66 days of doing your daily yoga or meditation.
Cue and Reward
Habits are more likely to stick when there is a clear cue for you to take action and a reward for having taken action. Set a cue to remind yourself to take action. Then give yourself a pat on the back for having completed your task.
Willpower is Finite
Your willpower is not an infinite resource. The more things you pack into your day and the more stressful your day, the less likely you will achieve your new goals at the end of the day. We recommend doing your most important goals first thing!
Keep It Simple
The more goals you set at a time and the more difficult you make them, the less likely you are to achieve any of them. When is the last time you achieved multiple goals in a single year? Our recommendation is to focus on one at a time. Narrow your list to the most important goal that makes all the others easier or unnecessary. Once you’ve achieved your goal you can set another and start goal stacking!