Friday, January 4, 2008

Resolutions vs. Goals... yeah I gotta weigh in too!

I have been reading a lot lately about resolutions for the new year vs. having actual goals. Is there even a difference? And, how does it relate to finances when things seem so tight?

Well, I agree with the consensus. Resolutions are basically those phrases you utter when everyone else is spouting out what they "plan" to accomplish in the new year. The problem is few get passed the resolution and to the planning phase.

The planning phase is when the resolution has the potential to become an actual goal. I recently sat down with my trusty notebook and came up with a revised plan for my emergency savings. I had not been saving like I should have. I needed to know how much money I had, how much more I needed and if it was even possible. I answered all of those questions and found out it was possible if I really buckled down.

I think this is one place where even goal setters mess up. A goal should not be carved in stone. It should be something that you are constantly updating and working with.

One thing I started doing last year that has worked really well for me was setting up some small notebooks for different purposes. I have one for my finances, one for journaling, and one for making lists and getting my to do's out of my head so I can think of other things. Not only do these help me keep records of what has happened in the past, that information can be used to further my goals and let me see when I messed up and possibly why. (Obviously December was not a big savings month for me. That is the only page in my entire notebook that is covered in writing, lol)

I also use these notebooks for motivation. I can look back and actually see what I have accomplished when I start feeling like I am not getting anywhere. That is a major problem with most goals. If they are too big, you don't notice progress. If they are too small you are always working on them and remaking them, etc.

So what are some good guidelines for making and accomplishing goals?

Don't set too many.
Make them measurable in some way. Finances are easy here.
Write them down.
Then don't worry about them constantly, but do what you can to work on them.
Put a time limit on them.

The last one can be touchy. If you don't accomplish a goal in a set amount of time have you failed? Only if you haven't made any progress. The purpose of a time limit is so that you can look at that goal again and make changes if they are needed. Had I not looked at my emergency plan I might have continued some of my bad habits that were zapping my savings.

So what are your thoughts on goals? Any tips for helping them stick?

No comments: