Growth 4 min read

Where Are You Heading Financially?

Financial goals without due dates are just wishes.

Do you have a dream of what you’d like to achieve in your financial world?  I guarantee you that, unless you have written it down, the chances of it coming to pass are slim or none.  Written goals give energy. The more you review them, the more motivated you become to accomplish them.  Many people are like “Cora” who asserts that she really wants to write a book. “I wrote three chapters about ten years ago”, she moaned. “I’ll finish it someday.”  Someday is the date that everybody plans to pay off credit cards, getting in shape, go back to school, or complete a host of other positive actions. Listen folks, someday is no day!  Your goals must have a time limit.  A goal without a due date is just a wish.

It’s good to divide your goals into two categories: short-term and long-term.  The short-term goals represent what you’d like to achieve within the next one or two years; long-term goals would be your desires for the period three to ten years from now. 

 Unsure about which goals to set?

 Here is a sample list to get you started:

 Short-term goals:

          I will establish a minimum $1000 emergency fund by...

          I will eliminate all credit card debt by...

          I will take a dream vacation to... by...

          I will move into my own apartment by...

          I will complete my college degree by...

Long-term goals:

          I will purchase a home by...

          I will invest at least $... into my retirement fund by...

          I will save $... for my child’s college education by...

Even if you miss your targeted due date, the existence of a deadline provides motivation to continue. Just keep moving forward. You don’t have to pursue all the goals at once;  just start with one.  Succeeding at one thing can super charge your faith to do more. Keep your written goals in view.  Be specific.  Beginning them with “I will” is more energizing than “I’m going to try” or “I hope to”.

Be accountable and true to your goals by sharing them with a few people who believe in you and have demonstrated their support. Give them permission to ask you about your progress from time to time—and don’t get defensive when they do.

 Whose Goal Is It, Anyway?

Before you put your goals in stone, it is important to ask yourself, “Do these goals represent my vision or desire for my life or someone else’s?”  For example, “Do I really want to go back and get that college degree even though I am making good money or am I just pacifying my nagging girlfriend or spouse’s desire for more social status?”  If your goals are not your own, you are highly likely to lose motivation especially when the inevitable struggles or challenges arise.  You may also find yourself resenting the person who pushed you into it. There are endless stories of people who went to college and majored in subjects in which they had little interest, but did so to pacify a parent. Many are now knee-deep in their unfulfilling, high-paying jobs and feeling trapped because of their upgraded life styles and related financial obligations. So, do your soul searching before you even start.

Finally, remember that you never achieve your goals alone. So stay connected to a strong support system, and for goodness sake,  don’t forget to acknowledge the Almighty. “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).  

Deborah Smith Pegues is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)/MBA and bestselling author of 16 books including 30 Days to Taming Your Finances. Read more about her at ConfrontingIssues.com.

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