Thursday, January 3, 2019
Goal-Setting (Part III): How Do You Get There?
In yesterday's blog post, I talked about how to decide where you're going — setting the goal or goals you want to achieve.
Once you know where you want to go, you can chart the course for how to get there.
So the next step after setting a goal is to create a series of steps you need to take to accomplish the goal.
There’s that saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When I get stuck on how to approach a goal, I make a list of all the tasks I need to take to get it done. Then I work on one. If I’m really stuck, I set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes, and I commit to working on a task until the timer goes off. Sometimes that’s enough to get me out of inaction.
As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, it is a really important part of the process to actually write things down. It requires a lot of effort and energy to try to remember what you need to do. You also have to spend time thinking about what you need to do next. When you write things down, it makes it easier to figure out where to spend your time. Also prioritize the list. Designate what to do first, and next, and next. That will help you move from task to task quickly, because you know what’s next on your list.
The other important piece is the “T” in “SMART” — putting a deadline on your goal. To turn a goal into reality, you need to know what you have to do on a monthly, weekly — or even daily — basis to make it happen. And you can’t do that unless you have a time frame for when you want to accomplish your goal. You start at the end, and figure out what it will take to get there.
One of the goals I gave as an example yesterday was "I will pay off $6,000 in credit card debt by Dec. 31, 2019."
That means you need to pay off $500 a month in principal to wipe out your entire credit card debt over the course of a year. Making a $500 payment each month sounds more manageable than tackling an entire sum.
But you can break it down even further. Five hundred dollars a month is $115 a week, or $16.50 a day. Once you have a goal and a timeline, you can take the appropriate action to make it happen.
You could pick up a little extra work each month to make your $500 a month goal. Or cut your expenses by $16.50 a day and allocate the savings to debt reduction.
But having a goal and action steps in place makes it much more likely that you will reach your goal than hoping that there is extra money at the end of each month to throw towards your credit card. And, if you have a plan for your money, you’re more likely to reach your goal of paying off your credit card because you know exactly what you want to do with that extra money you earned, or saved, or both.
So take a few minutes right now and write down the series of action steps you need to take for each of the goals you defined from yesterday's "homework" assignment.