A Guide to Setting FAST Goals for 2024

As we begin a new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the past and set strategic goals for the future. What did you accomplish in the previous year? Did you have any written goals? If not, do you think having them might have helped you accomplish more?

Many people never write down their goals because they believe it takes too much time or they don’t know where to start. However, writing down goals doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, and it can be beneficial in many ways. As we enter 2024, let’s consider it a fresh start, a chance to approach things in a new way. Let’s explore the concept of FAST goals (Focused Action for Specific, Time-bound objectives), which is a strategy designed to help you take immediate action and hopefully achieve success.

The key to achieving FAST goals is acting promptly without procrastinating. Delaying goal setting and action steps will only prevent you from accomplishing your goals more. On the other hand, the feeling of accomplishment from an early win can be a great motivator. While the popular saying is, “Ready, aim, fire!” when it comes to FAST goals, we prefer to say, “Ready, FIRE, aim!” So, let’s get started and take action toward achieving your goals today.

Initiating the FAST Approach:

  1. Create a notes page on your cell phone titled “2024 Goals”.
  2. List 2-3 areas of your life that are most important to you. Items on this list could include finances, health & fitness, relationships, etc.
  3. Under each area, list one action you can take right now that would move you closer toward that goal. At this stage, it is important to keep in mind that it is not crucial to have specifics of the goal or how you will get there. What is important is that you do something positive to move you toward your goal. For example, you may decide to increase your 401(k) contribution to $50 per month, or you could walk for 30 minutes. Do something today to get started.
  4. Over the next few days, weeks, or months, continue thinking about your goals and be more specific about what you want to achieve. Refine your goals as you go and set clear results that you want to see. Meanwhile, stick to the actions you have started and make them a regular habit. Continuously refine your actions as needed to ensure you reach your now clearer goals.
  5. Add a timeline for accomplishing each of your goals. Although a clear timeline is crucial for success in the FAST goals approach, it is also important to keep in mind that the timeline may need to be adjusted as you move closer to your goal or if circumstances change. Remember, whether you achieve your goal faster or slower than you anticipated, do not be discouraged. What matters most is the end result, so stay focused and do not give up.

Do not over-complicate the process of goal setting. In less than 10 minutes, you can outline your goals for 2024 and be in action towards achieving them. Remember that it’s normal to change or even drop some of your goals along the way. Regardless of what your goal is, how you plan to achieve it, or how long it takes, writing your goals down is vital to maximizing your potential. Don’t wait any longer. Start today and take the first step towards making 2024 your best year yet.


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professional photo of certified financial planner Stewart Welch wearing black suit and red tie

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 50 Rules of SuccessJ.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaireand 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. For more information, visit The Welch GroupConsult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.




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