If your financial situation is less than awesome right now, then financial independence might feel like an impossible dream. However, it’s worth remembering that there are plenty of people out there who have taken themselves from the depths of financial despair to the height of financial success. If they’ve done it then there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
Everyone who turns their life around, whether it’s through dropping excess weight, rebuilding their career or committing to being the best partner/parent/friend/sibling they can be, hits a breaking point where they conclude that enough is enough.
I am passionate about goal setting because, not only has it helped me make some significant changes in my life but it also made my life much simpler and a LOT happier. When you have goals, it becomes easy to make good choices as each one you make will either take you closer or further away from your goal. Whether you’re deciding how you’re going to spend your time, where you’re going to work or what you’re going to spend your money on, your decisions are shaped by your goals and your life is shaped by your decisions. Good decisions = a better life.
How to set S.M.A.R.T goals
There are three steps to goal setting: defining your goal, creating a plan and taking action. Surprisingly, the most difficult step is often the first one. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and into the unknown and that you to believe in your goal and your ability to achieve it. That’s not always easy.
When you define your goal, it needs to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Related). Simply saying “I want to get out of debt” doesn’t work; it’s too vague and there’s no indication of when you’re going to do it. Saying that “I want to pay off $30,000 of debt by December 31, 2017” is better because it’s specific, measurable, achievable and time-related. Whether it’s realistic depends entirely on your personal situation, and that’s where your plan comes in.
Your plan is your pathway to your goal. It sets out how you intend to get from where you are now to where you want to be within the time frame you’ve set for yourself. In order to pay off $30,000 of debt in 18 months, you’d need to commit about $1,700 per month. If that’s not realistic then you would need to either increase the time frame or reduce the amount of debt you plan to have paid off by the end of 2017, and set a separate goal for paying off the remaining balance. The trick is to create a plan that gives you the best chance of success; a plan that you’re comfortable with and inspires you to get started.
Finally, you need to take action. Follow the plan, don’t allow yourself to be discouraged by bumps in the road or obstacles in your path: those are all part of the process. Success doesn’t always come easy but it does come to those who are tenacious in pursuing it. When I look back at my own journey over the past three years, it’s incredible how different my life is now. And how many other good things came from my decision to make a change, that I couldn’t have anticipated when I started out.
I’d by lying if I said it was easy, or told you that there were never tears shed, feet stamped, objects thrown or times where I slipped back into being my carefree, irresponsible self for a bit. What I can tell you though, is that if you’re tired of how things are, and you want something better, then take the time to define what you want, why you want it and how you can get there. That might be what you need to get you fired up enough to take the first step on a path to something even better. And if you can stick to that path and follow it all the way to your goal, you will have mastered a surefire strategy for success that will make you impossible to hold back or hold down.