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The start of a new year always feels like the opening of a new book – endless potential and excitement for all the goals we are going to crush in the next 365 days. But how do we stay motivated and inspired all year long? How do we get our goals? You’re in luck – G is for Gettable Goals couldn’t have been more perfectly timed! We’re looking at the steps to take to get started and keep going with your goals.
Before we dive in, let’s just talk about the trouble with resolutions. We open that new book (the new year), and we set huge goals for the year ahead. For a week or two, we are focused and driven, but by the end of January, we’ve gone back to our old pre-new-years ways and are living life like normal.
Why does that happen?
Well, if you don’t get intentional with your goals, set them clearly, and build in new, healthy habits to sustain your growth, there’s not a big chance they are going to last.
Don’t worry, though – we are going to walk you through the steps of setting smarter goals, with some tips and tricks on how to stick with them after the first shiny weeks of the new year have passed.
How to set Gettable Goals
Define your Goal
It is not enough to think to yourself, I want to be rich, or I want to lose weight, or I want to be a better mom/wife/friend. You need a clear, specific vision of what that means to you. What will that look like for you when you have achieved your goal? “Paint done”, as Brene Brown says. Create a clear picture in your head of what completing that goal will mean to you. Imagine it. Write it down. Get specific.
Make it Meaningful
Setting goals to match someone else’s dream is a quick way to failure. If I made a goal for the year ahead to become a top-ranked bodybuilder, just because my friend is really into that, I wouldn’t achieve it. Because I’m not into bodybuilding. Think about your life, your dreams for the future – where do you want to be in ten years? What do you need to do to make that happen?
Make a Plan
Now that you have the end vision in mind, you need to write it down.
I can’t stress this enough – Write. It. Down.
For years I said, “We need to get out of debt,” and everything stayed the same. But, when I wrote down our plan, things kicked into gear. As a teacher, I write a lot of documents to support individual kiddos with their learning needs. We call these IPPs (Individualized Program Plans). And I quite literally wrote us an IPP for our debt.
When I wrote our first Debt IPP, I wrote, “By the end of December 2017, we will pay off 25% of our debt, reducing our debt to less than $49,230.” I was specific. Not just ‘some debt’ but how much debt. With a timeline attached. “By the end of 2017…” set a boundary on the goal. Not ‘someday’, but a set time.
This was a smaller step in our ultimate goal of being debt-free, but I’m showing it to you to see how specific we were. Ultimately, you want to give yourself a goal that is achievable, but also that you have to work for. So not “I will be debt-free by February 2020” if you owe $87000, because that’s probably not possible. But also not “I will pay off $50 extra on my credit card in 2020” because you can do better than that.
If your goal is around debt you might need to spend a bit of time and do some calculations to figure this out. We walk through the steps for this in The Absolute Best Way to Get Out of Debt – check it out now!
You can also use this debt-free calculator – the best one I found to give you an accurate timeline!
The next part of the plan is THE most important. You can’t write down the finish line and hope to find it eventually. You need a strategy. HOW will you get there? Your road map, if you will.
We knew we wanted to pay off all of our debt. That was our goal. But we needed a plan of how to get there, the steps we would take to achieve it.
Write down what specific steps you will take to achieve that goal.
Here’s a screenshot of my strategies. I was specific with where the money was coming from, and what it would be used for. This kept me focused.
Now that you have a goal set, with your ending painted clearly in your imagination, and the steps you are going to take to get there, you need to make sure that you check in with yourself along the way. I’d guess that this is where lots of goals get forgotten in the corner because we set them, but then we forget to keep moving forward.
Find a way to track your progress. For me, I used a spreadsheet each month to track my debt balances and see my totals going down. I also used a bullet journal spread to colour in boxes each time we paid off $100. You wouldn’t think that colouring in a teeny box would keep you motivated, but I looked forward shading in these beautiful boxes so much! It reminded me that we were winning. Plus, I kept it out on my dresser, so when I got up each morning and when I went to bed each night, it was a reminder of the goal and where we were heading.
Maybe for you, this is an app on your phone or a chore-chart on the fridge. Somewhere you can check off your successes and have a visual reminder of the progress you have made.
If we waited until we paid off the ENTIRE $65000 before we celebrated, we certainly would have lost momentum. A little external motivation goes a long way. Set some mini-goals along the way. For us, each time we paid off a debt, we did something special. Not something extravagant, but something fun. Maybe a movie date, or a plate of nachos at our local pub. Perhaps an afternoon rockband date. What motivates you is undoubtedly different than what motivates us. The point is, though – you need to celebrate the small successes along the way to keep you moving forward.
Don’t Give Up
My final tip is the hardest but also the most important.
Don’t give up.
Even on days when you don’t want to do it anymore. Even on days when using your credit card to pay for a trip to Mexico would be so much more fun.
And even on days when you slip a bit and realize you took a step backward. A tiny step back is not a reason to quit. Neither is a big backslide.
Take a breath, read your goal, your WHY, and keep moving forward.
Something that I do to stay focused on my goals – journalling ala Rachel Hollis. Every day I write down the goals that I am working on as if they have already happened.
So instead of writing ‘I will pay off my debts’, I write down ‘I am debt-free including my mortgage’. This is a daily reminder that I have a big financial goal, paying off my mortgage, and a little psychology brain-hack where I trick my mind. By writing it down as if it’s already completed, your brain works harder to align that statement with your reality. You can learn more about this amazing practice here.
Types of Goals
You can use these strategies for any goal that you want to achieve.
I listened to a great podcast recently – Episode 206 of The Mindful Kind podcast – where host Rachael Kable talks about how to reflect on the year gone by, and get ready for the year ahead. I love how she breaks down the different areas that you can set goals in – it’s not just about money or fitness.
By setting small, manageable goals in different areas, you can embrace the months ahead with intention. And this doesn’t need to happen on December 31st.
Every single day is an opportunity to reflect and redesign – it doesn’t matter if you are reading this in December or June – tomorrow is a new day, and you can set a goal and move forward with intention.
I set goals in all different areas – work and home, money and fitness, self-care and relationships – but you know I love me some financial goals, and I’d be remiss not to give you some ideas for financial goals you can set. Today. Not January 1st. Or the end of next month. Today. (Unless the day you are reading this is January 1st. In which case – DO IT!)
Here are some ideas for financial goals that may help you achieve your dreams:
- Start a budget
- Follow a budget
- Set up a recurring donation
- Get out of debt
- Get proper insurance
- Build an Emergency Fund
- Plan for your future using sinking funds
- Start saving for retirement
- Start saving for kids’ schooling
- Invest for retirement
- Make more money
- Spend less money
Without knowing your financial story, I can’t tell you which of these is the most important. But I will say, over and over again, that using a budget is the best thing I have done to help us move forward towards our goals. And it doesn’t need to be a complicated budget – check out B is for Better Budgets for a breakdown of all different types of budgeting strategies to find one that works for you.
If you are in debt, getting OUT of debt should be your goal. And I said should not could because I hate debt and the stress that comes with it. Before you save for retirement or your kid’s university, before you invest, before you go on a Carribean cruise. Get out of debt. This is your year!
What are my gettable goals for this year? Spend more intentional time with my family. Use my phone less. Finish the Emergency Fund. Cashflow a trip to Disneyland. Run another 10K. Build this community. Launch two exciting new projects (coming soon!!!).
Full disclosure: I have had a tough time writing this one. Crushing goals is basically my hobby at this point, but for some reason, I’ve had a block to make these words come out. It’s probably because I feel a little overwhelmed with my own goals at this moment, and I need to follow my own advice. Time to crack out the journal and set some gettable goals for the year ahead – are you with me?
To share your goals, or get inspired by other people’s, head on over to our Facebook community!
Don’t forget to Pin this post for later – you’ll want to come back and refresh those steps to achieving your goals when the road gets rocky!