As we start a new year, it presents an opportunity for us to reflect on the past and chart a new course for the future. Personally, resolutions never really resonated with me. It’s like a one-time affirmation. Successful people and organizations don’t set resolutions, they set specific, written goals, we should do the same.
1. Take Stock of This Year
If you’re a sports fan, you know only one team or player wins each year, that means everyone else failed, right? Not exactly! While winning the championship is the ultimate goal, it can be one of several important goals. We should see our lives the same way.
If one of your goals was to lose 50lbs this year, and you lost 48lbs, would you consider the year a complete failure? The success is in the progress, not an arbitrary destination.
The first thing to do before setting new goals for next year is to take stock of this year.
What were your successes? Take note, especially of the small successes over the entire year. Celebrating the small wins often helps motivate you to go further. Again, success is a journey, not a destination.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates
What were your failures this year? Take stock of your failures over the entire year as well! Part of the problem with success and failure is how we interpret them. Sometimes we externalize and minimize our success. We chop it up to “being lucky” and sometimes we internalize failure and see ourselves as the failure and not behaviors or the task (i.e. The difference between “I am a failure” and “I didn’t do enough to accomplish XYZ task”). Try to have an objective view of your successes and failures so you can learn from them both. The journey more valuable than the result.
“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.”
– Ellen DeGeneres
2. Write Your Goals Down
This may seem obvious, but the vast majority of people still don’t do it. There is a psychological benefit from taking a thought in your head and committing it to paper or even text on your screen. Thoughts in your head can’t be shared or challenged by others. Memories fade and change. Goals in your head aren’t really goals, they are just day dreams. If you want to significantly improve your chances of accomplishing your goals you need to do four things:
- Write it down
- Make it a SMART Goal (Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, Time-based)
- Share it with people you trust and can hold you accountable
- Break it down into smaller achievable goals (daily/weekly/monthly sub-goals)
3. Remove Things That Don’t Move You Forward
Often times we set goals to add new experiences to our lives, but it is often what we remove can be just as valuable. There may be activities (and frankly people) that are creating unnecessary barriers to achieving your goals. You may not need to eliminate it completely, we can all use mind-numbing or unhealthy activities once in a while, but reducing the frequency may be the key. So instead of daily, it’s weekly, or instead of weekly, it’s monthly.
Examples: Television, Social Media, Video Games, Smoking, Gossip, Bad Influences, Sugary drinks, Fast Food, Retail Therapy, Excessive Spending
4. Invest In Yourself
Removing time-wasters and unhealthy habits can open up opportunities to invest back into yourself. If you’re a parent, you may feel guilty prioritizing yourself, but your child(ren) will benefit as much if not more from a better you! You can replace the time used on people and things that don’t move you forward with people and things that do. Reading books, listening to podcasts, meditation, taking courses, even joining a club or sports league are just examples. Your free time is rare and valuable, make sure you use it wisely with activities that help you become the best version of yourself.
5. Automate Your Savings
It wouldn’t be a financial blog without some money tips! The best money tip to hit savings goals is to automate it and to synchronize the savings deposits with your paycheck. If you are an employee, note that the IRS gets paid before you do. We may not be able to change that, but we can make sure your savings come a close second. Whether it’s a savings account, a 401k, a 529 or a brokerage account, you’ll be amazed at how your savings grow when you get out of the way!
6. Be the CFO of You Inc.
People are corporations. Regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, you are a brand and a business. As an employee, your employer contracts with you for your services for a fee. If they no longer need your services, they can terminate the contract and you’ll contract with another business for a similar fee. The more you see yourself as a business, the more you’ll conduct your affairs as a business – [You] Inc.
7. Develop Side Hustles
As the employment contract has changed from pensions and employment for life to 401ks and at-will employment, It is becoming more evident that putting all your income eggs in one employer basket is a big risk. There is no such thing as a secure job anymore. Although global competition and offshoring make more news headlines, many more jobs are being automated. Technology is eliminating more jobs than offshoring. We have to ask ourselves the tough question:
Will a computer be able to do my job better than me and if so, what am I going to do about it?
Everyone may not be an entrepreneur, but considering how you can develop and monetize your skills is extremely important. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about making money now, but just developing skills that bring value to others.
- Are you skilled at something that people find difficult?
- Do you often hear people complain about a problem that you know how to fix?
- Is there something people naturally come to you for help with?
Setting goals for the year is not a 30-minute endeavor on December 31st. We encourage you to put some serious thought into your goals and prioritize your top three. Because it’s written, you can come back to it on a regular basis and as you accomplish them, check them off and add new ones. By the end of the year, you’ll have a list of checked goals and sub-goals that will make you feel fantastic. We’re confident next year can be your best year yet!