What are your goals for 2018? When setting your goals for the new year, it’s important to focus on a few things.
Make sure your goals are yours.
Whether it is decluttering your workspace, reducing debt or losing weight, your goals must be yours, not what someone else thinks you should do. That leads to a few questions you should ask yourself. Why are they your goals? What aspects of your life will be better when you meet your goals? What do those things really mean to you? If you can figure that out, it will be easier to define and meet your goals.
Make sure your goals are attainable.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Many years ago, I worked with a couple who had gotten three years behind on their income taxes. They thought it was an impossible situation, but we came up with a five-year plan to get current with Uncle Sam. And it worked. It couldn’t have happened in one or two years, but setting a realistic goal and then working toward it every month, they surprised themselves. I knew they could do it, but the large number had just been too daunting for them to see a plan.
This same thing applies to other financial aspects of your life. Paying down debt, building up a saving account, adding to retirement — these are all valid goals. But be realistic. While you work toward whatever your goals happen to be, remember you still have your everyday life to live. And you must have some discretionary funds for fun things as well. If you are paying down debt and adding to savings first, then hopefully there will be dollars left over for discretionary spending.
Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you get off track.
Going off the diet and having ice cream is one thing. Getting down on yourself and then eating the entire container is something else. Yes, try to pay down debt each month, but if you can’t make an extra payment, give yourself a pat on the back because your debt didn’t increase that month.
Small steps add up to progress over time. Be patient with yourself and give yourself a break.
Happy New Year.
Sharon Pryse, chairman and founder of The Trust Company, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.