So you’ve got your goal, and you’ve made it as specific as possible. Maybe you even have timeline. The next step is to make sure your goal is actually something you could achieve. First, ask yourself, “Is this really what I want, or am I doing it because I think I should or someone else wants me to do it?” Also ask yourself about your motivation to achieving this goal. If you’ve examined it and it makes you yawn, maybe it isn’t the goal for you. If you don’t really want to do it, you’ll continue to put it off and you’ll continue to beat yourself up because you aren’t reaching it. It’s a vicious cycle. You may need to redefine your parameters or scrap it entirely and start again.
Another good question to ask yourself is can you reach this goal or are you biting off too much? Let’s use the example of saving money. If you’re barely paying your bills right now, saving $200 a month might be too lofty of a goal, but $50 a month might be something you can do. You won’t really know which is right for you, however, without tracking your monthly income and comparing it to your expenses so you know where to cut back and where you can’t budge. You might even need to bring in an expert like a financial planner or a friend who’s good with math and who won’t tease you about the amount of money you spend on video games each month.
Once you know your goal is attainable and you have the necessary motivation to do it, you’re ready to chunk it down. Break the bigger goal into smaller goals, things you can see immediate results from. Maybe you’re going to start by saving $10 a week, which breaks down into about $1.50 a day. This sounds so much more possible, and even easier than planning to save $500 a year, but they are exactly the same goal. Once you have the immediate goal and see the $1.50 a day and $10 a week, your motivation will increase and you’ll build a positive returns cycle, making it easier to get to your ultimate goal.
If you’re having trouble actually meeting your goal, competition is a great motivator. Your family and friends might want to join in and try to see if they can match or beat your goal. This is going to require some sort of tracking system: a monthly bank statement, a weekly get-together to compare, a bragging phone call. Any way that works for you to show your progress and prove that you’re winning.
Stay tuned for the next installment, where we will talk about how to take your new goals and turn them into long-lasting habits.