by Karen Kuebler
As I get older, the New Year sure seems to come around faster each year! It’s time to set new goals and resolutions. Did you accomplish your goals and resolutions last year? If so, keep doing what you’ve been doing. If not, maybe it is time to approach your goal setting process differently.
* * *
The following are techniques that have proven to be effective and will help guide you. I specifically discuss the achievement of financial goals, but the principles can be applied to all areas of your life.
Set Realistic, Specific, and Relevant Goals
Make sure your goals are relevant and meaningful to you. In order to accomplish any task, we have to "own" it. The goal will come alive for you if you are passionate about achieving it. Whatever you choose to attain must be realistic. Let’s say you are making an annual income of $30,000 currently and your goal is to increase your annual income to $80,000. It wouldn’t be realistic to expect that to happen in one year. However, the goal can be broken into smaller pieces. Any large or complex goal should be set-up in measurable and achievable phases. Make the outcomes specific and measurable by giving them a timeline and stating specifically what you want to achieve. It’s also preferable to make the goals a bit of a stretch. Could you accomplish this goal in five years? It might be a stretch, but with enough commitment and action it is doable. You can set the goal to increase your income by $10,000 per year for the next five years. There are many successful people who have set outcomes that required a greater stretch than this and have made their dreams come true.
What tasks would you need to accomplish during the coming year to carry out your long-term goal? Do you need to further your education? Register for courses in college to complete a degree program. Set an appointment with your manager to discuss what specific skills you would need to master to be eligible for a promotion. Consider other skills, talents and hobbies you enjoy and research ways you could turn these into profitable ventures. Find a mentor at work who would be willing to work with you to further develop and hone your skills. The possibilities are endless. Write down your long-term goal with specific dates and numbers. Write down the steps you will take this year to work toward the desired outcome. Schedule steps for each month of 2002 and schedule specific calls and appointments into your daily planner.
Practice Positive Affirmations Throughout the Day, Every Day
When stating an affirmation, say it with conviction and as if it has already been accomplished. Let’s say your goal is to save $10,000 by the end of the year toward a down payment on a home. Write affirmations that you can repeat throughout the day. For example: "I am financially astute, and I am practicing saving techniques on a daily basis that will enable me to save $10,000 by the end of this year."
Don’t doubt and question whether you are capable. Your mind is a powerful tool. It will focus and direct you toward the outcomes you believe to be true. If you commit yourself to this process throughout the day, every day, your actions will follow the positive direction of your mind’s belief. You must follow-up with action. Stating affirmations alone, without action, will not accomplish the goal. Take necessary steps to become financially astute. Set a specific task of reading articles one hour a week to learn about money matters. All the information you need is available at your local library.
Have Fun with your Goals and Progress
Attitude is everything in the winning game. If you approach something you are doing as a form of punishment or deprivation, that is how you will feel. This attitude does not set you up for success. If you view the process as empowering and magical, you will not only create the outcomes you want, but you will have fun on your journey. For example, your family wants pizza and you’re feeling deprived because you can’t spend the money if you are going to make the $10,000 goal. Everybody sits around moaning and complaining and making do with something out of the pantry or freezer. How do you feel right now? Instead, the family comes together to make pizza. Homemade dough doesn’t take long, and you can make all the pizza you want and even make half and half pizzas. Create a colored thermometer on poster board, place it on the wall, and let family members take turns coloring in the savings line as it grows further up the chart. You probably easily saved $40 by making the pizza. You rent a great video for $3.50 and everybody enjoys the pizza while watching the movie.
Now, how do you feel? A little more empowered, and not a bit deprived. You can make a game out of just about anything if you work at it. Have the family create menus for the month and give a prize to the one who comes up with the most cost effective menus. Try the same with your recreation plans. Have everyone fill out a certain number of ideas on slips of paper and drop them into a jar. Set a limit with the cost of each activity. On the weekends, pull a couple of ideas from the jar for your family recreation.
Keep a Success-Gratitude Journal
Keep a daily journal and write down every success you can think of that day. Record things you did or experienced that were positive. When you appreciate the simple things that occur in your life, they begin to happen more frequently. Here are some examples. You took your lunch to work instead of buying. You didn’t take the car out today and saved on gasoline. You sold some items on Ebay or at a garage sale and added your profits to your savings. You received a raise or bonus at work and put the money into savings. You found a low-cost calling program on the internet and can now make long distance calls for less than .04 cents a minute. You saved $20 using double coupons at the grocery store. You organized your closet and discovered that you have plenty of clothes to last you through the year. If you start to keep a success journal you will identify so many things that you may have never thought of before as accomplishments. Remember, little things add up, as well as big things!
Visualize Being Successful
Picture having successfully accomplished your goals in the coming year. The power of visualization has been a method practiced by many successful people in our history and remains an untapped resource by most of us. Visualize in your mind’s eye what it is you are going to accomplish and replay the tape of this movie each morning when you awake and each night before you go to sleep. Make those "wishes" and "dreams" become a reality in your life. Put visual pictures and reminders where you see them constantly. For our example, return to the goal of saving $10,000 toward a down payment on a home. Find a picture or a photo of a home similar to the one you want to eventually buy. Make a $10,000 bill on your computer. Post the pictures and the $10,000 bill in places you visit often (the bathroom, the closet, the refrigerator, etc.) Determine ways you can and will raise and/or save the money this year. Visualize yourself looking at the investment statement on December 31, 2002 with a total of $10,000.
The process of visualization has been proven to work over and over again. Studies have been conducted with basketball teams and other sports, using the power of visualization. In one study, a group of basketball players practiced their sport in one of three ways. Some physically practiced daily, others did nothing in the way of practice, and the remaining individuals practiced playing the game from beginning to end in their minds, visualizing every move of the game and the winning outcome. Both the players that physically practiced and those who visualized playing and winning did equally well in outcomes on the court. Those who did nothing.....well, I bet you can guess the outcome. Do this exercise, faithfully, each morning before you start the day and every night before you go to sleep.
Reward Your Milestones and Accomplishments
This fits in with the idea of having fun along the road to your financial success. I am a strong believer in rewarding and celebrating your successes. My husband and I have rewarded ourselves with "profit sharing" over the years. If we have met our financial goals for the year, including planned savings, and lived below our means, we take the surplus money and divide it into thirds – he gets one third, I get a third, and a third goes into a ‘recreation fund’ for the following year. This process has worked wonders. Every time we are faced with a decision to spend money on an unplanned item, my husband asks himself if he is willing to pay one-third of his profits for it! Create rewards to fit your family’s interests and needs, and let the family participate in developing them.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to motivate yourself, but I hope it will help you get started in accomplishing what you want in your life. You *can* achieve your financial goals and make this a fun and rewarding year. Begin your journey by making a list of all the blessings and accomplishments you experienced last year and make this a great year!
* * *
Copyright 2001 by Karen Kuebler. All rights reserved.