Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Follow-Up - Setting Goals...

A follow-up guest post was last time written by fellow message boarder cjohnston. Great advice and wisdom. I love this post and it got me thinking about the future. Perhaps before the year is done I will do a goal list for 2008. For us, DH and I don't typically have clear financial goals, we have life goals. That happens to entail finances, but mostly it's getting where we want to be and finances happens to be important to get there, but not the end all be all. Please enjoy this wonderful post...

Setting Goals

The last time I was asked to guest write for Living Almost Large I wrote about the Purpose Driven Budget. How developing a spending plan on paper is the foundation of getting your finances under control as a first step and key to financial victory. Always on paper, always on purpose.

The next key piece of financial victory is one you don’t see often written about in financial blogs. You’ll see plenty of ideas on budgeting, frugal living, investing, how to buy a car and other vital information. But what you won’t often see if how important it is to take the next step…..setting goals.

I’m not sure why you don’t see financial blogs dealing with this more. Yet the process of setting goals will take you from being a learner to a doer which leads to becoming an achiever.

For some reason, many of us like to get mired in the learning process. You can read a non-fiction book a month for the rest of your life. You can glean financial blogs, listen to motivational tapes or see and watch every key guru. Bottom line? While ongoing learning is important, sooner or later, all that information will be wasted effort and time if you don’t do something with it.

If you're like me and initially struggled with having a Purpose Driven Budget, for me goal setting trumps in difficulty even the most difficult budget process. Thankfully, I’ve found some wonderful resources to assist in starting my goal setting process. Let me share some of the things I’ve learned.

First, envision what you want as an outcome. Place yourself in that outcome. Begin believing that you are achieving that outcome. See if it’s really a comfortable place for you. If it is, then go for it.

Take the time to write your goals on paper. Get them out of your mental processes and get them on paper. It goes back to the processes we did with our Purpose Driven Budget. By putting our spending plan on paper, on purpose, we got to see how our money was behaving in a clear and concise manner. Do the same with your goals. By writing your goals on paper, on purpose, your goals are no longer competing with all the other mental thoughts and problems you must process on a daily basis. They now stand alone and you control them. You choose when to deal with them, see them, act on them and measure your results.

Always express your written goals positively. Don’t write goals in a manner that beats you up. Don’t make them punishments. Make your goals something that you desire and want to accomplish. Your mind wants to deal with the positive in life and will work against you by blocking out the negative. To keep you goals top of mind, always express them in a positive manner and outcome.

You must make your goals precise. Put in realistic dates, times and amounts so you can measure your progress.

To make your goals meaningful, you must set your priorities. You’ll likely have several goals going on at one time. By setting priorities, you’ll maintain sanity because you’ll have a clear understanding of each goal and their pecking order.

At this point I’m going to make you do a mental 180. Goal obtainment must be rooted in performance, not outcome. It took me a long time to get past not having an outcome as a goal. But after 30+ years of failing to have the outcomes I set, I have found that rooting them in performance gets me closer to the outcomes I’ve envisioned. And it gives you more control over what you are doing. You have control over the inputs, which are the performance elements.

Next, make sure your goals are specific. Name your objectives. Name your time frames. Name your performance inputs.

Make sure the goals you are setting are realistic for you. They can’t be based on the desired outcomes of other people. They must be about you and your desires and dreams. Someone elses goals aren’t realistic for you. Sure, if you’re married or employed, you need to have the buy in and co-ordination of those in your immediate sphere. But if done properly, you likely won’t be answering to anyone who is attempting to control you through goals given for you to obtain yet set by them.

Another part of having realistic goals is having the necessary information that gives you a clear understanding of the skills, knowledge and other performance inputs necessary. Remember when we talked about ongoing learning? This is where all that pays off.

Goal setting is best when done in appropriately sized bites. Make goals that are just out of reach rather than too easy or too difficult. In other words, they must be set at the appropriate level. Too large and we choke on what we’ve attempted to take on. You’ll soon be too tired, too worn out or simply too burned out to carry on. You need some level of achievement to re-adjust and strech to the next level.

Set your goals too small and you’ve not stretched enough to move forward. You’ll never get to where you want to go or achieve anything of real worth.

Finally, think your goals through. Get an understanding of why you’re setting the goals your setting. Factor in the skills and knowledge that you’ll need. Understand where you can find the necessary resources, help or assistance to get through roadblocks and further develop them. Review your goals for any assumptions or better ways to achieve what you desire.

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