It’s a new year and a new opportunity to hit the reset button on goals for the most important aspects of your life. Your first question might be, “Does setting goals really matter?” As a seasoned politician (Mayor of Mtn. Brook), my answer would be, “It depends…” Most people go through life, never set any goals or if they do, they are quickly forgotten. And yes, a lot of these folks manage to get by but rarely do they excel. For those people who do excel, most believe in setting goals and executing a plan for achieving them. By doing so, you take control of your own destiny.
If you’ve never set goals and are not sure how to set practical goals, here’s a simple way to start:
- Keep it simple Write one goal for each of the three most important areas of your life: Financial, Physical, Family.
- Financial- This could be as simple as reducing your debt by a certain amount over the coming year or saving 10% of your income for your retirement.
- Physical- Sometimes, we don’t realize how valuable good health is until we don’t have it. Your best strategy is to take a proactive approach by committing to eating healthy most of the time, regular exercise, and an annual checkup with your doctor.
- Family- Nothing is more important than family relationships. Like exercise, a lack of nurturing often leads to atrophy.
- Create a written plan of action What are one or two things you could do in each goal area that would move you towards to path of success? Examples:
- Financial- Increase your 401k contribution to 10%. Notice that because this is automatically taken from each paycheck, the odds of success are significantly increased.
- Physical- Start where you are at your current level of fitness. Maybe you commit to walking for 30 mins after dinner every evening.
- Family- Commit to a weekly date night with your spouse or commit to spending one-on-one time weekly with each of your children.
- Execute your plan This is where most people fail after a few short weeks. Research suggests it takes about 30 days to develop a habit. Your best strategy is to plug your action plan directly into your calendar for the whole year, then commit to sticking to your schedule. Don’t leave it up to your memory.
- Monitor your results I put my main goals on a 3×5 index card and have them on my desk to review often. It helps keep them in front of me. Another idea is to plug a review in your calendar monthly or quarterly to remind you to take a moment to review how you’re doing. If you’re off track, recommit to your plan.
Ultimately, for most people, their destiny is in their hands, but only if they take control by setting goals, developing plans for success and executing their plan deliberately and consistently.
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2020: Your Most Important Goals
Four steps to writing goals:
- Keep it simple- Write one goal for each of 3 areas: Financial, Physical, Family.
- Create a written Action Plan.
- Execute your plan.
- Monitor your results.
Some of the most successful people are goal setters! It allows you to take control of your destiny.
Stewart H. Welch, III, CFP, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including J.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaire; and 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. More information about The Welch Group and important Disclosures can be found on our website. Investing in securities involves the risk of loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy will be profitable or equal any historical performance level(s). Consult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.