It is crazy to me to think that we are already in 2021 (FINALLY!). 2020 was the longest year EVER. But here we are, almost a week into 2021, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what is in store. One thing that people seem to focus on at this time of year is planning out what the next year will look like. Many people do this by creating resolutions. And this is fine, but in the past few years I’ve done something different, and I’ve seen major results. So, today let’s talk about creating New Year’s goals instead of resolutions.
What’s the Difference Between a Goal and a Resolution?
A resolution is typically a decision someone makes to do or not do something. Save money, pay down debt, start investing…these are all things someone could resolve to do. But the path forward isn’t necessarily clear. Resolutions are also rigid. This means if you stray off the path or stumbles, you will often give up.
On the other hand, a goal is where someone is aiming. It is the object of your ambition and effort. It is the destination, but the journey is flexible. This means that you can take detours, pause, or find a different way. With this flexibility it is easier to keep moving forward even after setbacks. So, if you want to see change in your personal finances or other areas of your life, creating New Year’s goals instead of resolutions will start you out on the right foot.
How to Set Your Goals
Creating goals for yourself isn’t as simple as just saying you’ll do them. You have to take certain steps to achieve them. Research shows that if you write down your goals you are 42% more likely to achieve them. In order to set yourself up for success in achieving your goals, you need to write them down.
I recommend writing them down somewhere that you have access to them often. Being able to review them and change them as needed will help you stay focused. Each year I start a document in Google for my annual goals. I check back periodically to update my goals and to be sure that I am on the right track.
Be Clear in Your Why
Creating New Year’s goals instead of resolutions gives you a chance to get clear on your motivation. When you set goals that you are focused on and you understand your why, you have a better chance of being successful. Your why is your motivation behind your goals. It is what drives you and it can keep you going despite setbacks. Use your why to make your goals line up with your values. You are more likely to stick with an achieve goals that line up with your values.
On the sheet that I track my goals on, I break my goals into categories like health, personal growth, family, and finance. For each section I write down my values around that area of my life and why I want to improve it by reaching my goals. Being clear in how my goals will help me live out my values has helped me take HUGE strides in reaching my goals each year.
Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
If you’ve worked on setting goals in the past, you’ve probably come across S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (or Relevant), and Time Sensitive. These are attributes of a good goal and making sure a goal has these elements will help you be more successful in reaching them.
This is your WHY, which you should define right as you get started. Remember, your WHY drives your motivation. This is also your HOW, meaning what steps you will take to reach your goal. Writing out the steps will help you break your goal into manageable pieces and take concrete action. So, if you want to save $5,000 this year, how much will you save each month? Into what account? On what day(s)? This will help you create an action plan.
It is important to measure your progress over time to keep yourself on track. This also can help move you from a passive saver, one who doesn’t think about when or how much they save, to a more active saver who is focused on the process. Create a system for measuring your progress on your goals. You can use a spreadsheet, a bullet journal, or an app on your phone.
It is good to create goals that stretch you as a person, but you also want to know that they are achievable. Making them achievable shouldn’t necessarily make them easy, but it means that you know you can do it!
While setting realistic goals may seem like the same thing as setting achievable goals, when saving money, it can be a bit different. Realistic goals are those that you will actually do. Going back to the saving $5,000 in a year, if you aren’t saving any money right now, increasing your savings to $500 a month, may not be realistic. This is because it is so outside of normal and if you fall short, you might just abandon the whole project. Instead, setting a smaller goal of $50 a month to start may be more realistic. Keeping your goals realistic helps you follow through and reach your goal!
Setting goals with a timeframe helps you achieve them. It keeps you focused and gives you an end goal. This is where setting goals gets exciting because you have a tangible end point that can help you stay motivated.
If you are ready to create real change in your life this year, you are ready to start creating New Year’s goals instead of resolutions. Remember, these goals don’t have to be big or earth shattering. They just have to be important to you!
Take the time to line your goals up with your values, write them down somewhere you can refer back to them, and make them S.M.A.R.T. But above all, take the time to celebrate the journey and the wins along the way. I know if you set goals and see them through you will achieve amazing things this year!
What are some of your goals for 2020?
Do you want more ideas on how to transform your personal finances in the year ahead? Check out this blog post from last year Six Steps to Develop Your Personal Finances in 2020.
Are you ready to make and crush your personal finance goals? Check out my personal finance templates that can help you on your journey here.
Do you want more help setting up your personal finance goals and a partner to hold you accountable? Financial coaching might be just what you are looking for. Set up a free 30-minute ‘Get to Know You’ call with me today to get started!