“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894), American poet, essayist and physician.
Let’s talk about resolutions. Yes, those resolutions, New Year’s Resolution. A few weeks into the year, a couple of resolutions fall by the wayside. After setting the resolutions, some argue that it is a little too early to track their progress. But then it’s too late to track progress.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “if you do not change your direction, you are likely to end up where you are heading.” And that destination is, sadly, often failure. Why are we talking about New Year’s Resolutions in July? Because these resolutions fail for the same reason why all our goals fail.
To stop the seemingly inevitable doom, you should try to take a closer look at how much progress you are making often, as well as what you need to do to change any negative trend. Here is a look at some possible reasons why your financial goals may not be working out, and ways in which you could make up for the lost time.
Set Meaningful Goals
You may have, either written down or at the back of your mind, a long list of things you know you need to do to get your finances in order. For example, you may want to create a budget, pay off your mobile loans, start a savings plan, and so on. However, an honest look at your situation could reveal that you are simply trying to make it day by day, with many other things taking up your time and attention.
What you need to do is make your financial goals more attractive and personal. Make them exciting and worth working towards. If, say, you would like to start a savings plan, think of specific things you want to save towards. Is it a holiday? Maybe a new cooker. Or for your child’s school fees. Find something you care about and want desperately and start saving towards it. As for the idea of saving up for your retirement, focus on the lifestyle you would like to have upon leaving employment.
Also, ensure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Prioritize The Goals
Trying to do too many things at once often means that nothing gets done very well, if at all. It can take much longer to achieve your goals overall if you try to do so all at once, rather than tackling them one at a time. That is demotivating. When you are not getting anything done, you will give up. The reality is, there is only so much you can do, and time is not going to stop for you.
It would help to focus on a smaller handful of, say, three to four resolutions. This will focus your efforts and increase your chances of succeeding. Do not forget about your other resolutions completely, but try not to worry about them until you have made progress with your top priorities.
Set Yourself Up For Success
In order to achieve your financial goals, you not only need to have a specific plan of action, but you also must think of the tools you need to carry out the plan. In the same way that you would not start jogging without getting a good pair of shoes first, you should also not forge ahead into your planned activities blindly.
Get yourself off on the right footing. Put all the small things in place first, to help you tackle the big issues. If you want to eliminate your debts, you need to know how much you owe and from where you will get the money. And if you would like to begin saving, put down your expenses against your income to identify realistic areas where you can cut down on your spending and have money to put aside for this.
Also, remember that in all matters personal finance, a budget is the foundation. Make one.
[Read More: Building a “User-Friendly” Personal Budget]
4. Be Positive
After planning to win and preparing to win, expect to win. Proceeding positively is one of the main steps to achieving your objectives, right after purposeful planning and preparation. Also, it can be very discouraging to always focus on what you are doing wrong, rather than recognizing and rewarding yourself for what you are doing right.
Parallel to looking at the areas you need to work on, and believing in your actions, list all your accomplishments to keep you motivated. You might actually be surprised at how much you are doing right!
The power of positivity in motivating you should not be ignored.
Take life into account
In assessing your progress towards your goals, consider your situation uniquely, instead of looking at it as everyone else would. For example, if you earn an irregular income, then you might find making regular monthly loan repayments or savings quite difficult to keep up with. Customize your Savings Plan and debt-repayment.
On the contrary, do not wait until everything is just right, things will never be perfect. You will always be faced with challenges and obstacles, but sharpening your focus now will not only make you more skillful but also more self-confident and successful.
We are well into the second half of the year and we agree, talking about New Year Resolutions is a bit odd. But those resolutions are just goals. They are our aspirations. A reflection of what we want for ourselves. What we hope for ourselves. Hope is not a reserve for January. You still harbor those hopes today. If you failed along the way just get up and try again, right now. You are wiser this time.