If you’re one of the millions of people who set financial New Year’s resolutions only to lapse a few days, weeks, or months later, now is a perfect time to reboot.
The process of setting and reaching financial goals should be something we practice year-round, not just at the beginning of each year. Yet in our busy lives, it takes determination and focus to take time out to think about our ambitions and how we’re pursuing them. Perhaps that’s why so many people plan and set goals only at the beginning of a new year — because the holiday season offers more downtime to think about the big picture and our life’s direction.
When it comes to planning, the time you spend can pay big dividends. It could become your down payment on a first-class ticket to greater financial security, better health, closer personal relationships, a more satisfying work life — and even (for those of us pressed for time now) greater chunks of leisure time.
Students learning a foreign language must learn, forget, and relearn words three to six times before they permanently commit the translation to memory. Setting financial goals is much the same. Most people set a goal, fail to reach it, and somewhere down the road try again. Success is most likely to come after a series of false starts.
Why does that happen? We all learn from our past disappointments, so we come better prepared to succeed with each new assault on the goal. Timing also plays a part. The Buddhist proverb, “When the pupil is ready, the master will appear,” seems to apply here. There are simply times in our lives when we are better prepared to incorporate our past experiences and ongoing motivation into a winning formula for success.
Have your financial goals been derailed because you were blindsided by the stock and real estate market crashes? When picking yourself up after missing a goal, there are five basic tools — the “5 P’s” — you’ll want to use to improve the odds of victory on your next attempt:
- Passion — You’ve got to want the goal badly enough that you won’t allow yourself to become discouraged when the finish line proves hard to reach.
- Persistence — Cliché as it may sound, if at first you don’t succeed, you have to keep trying. Any goal worth attaining is worth pursuing even through repeated setbacks.
- Planning — If the road to defeat is paved with good intentions, the road to success is smoothed with actual planning. Successful businesses begin with a well-thought business plan. Successful goal setters likewise require a carefully considered plan to reach their goals.
Each plan should include:
- Ways to break the main goal into smaller, easier-to-accomplish parts
- A realistic timetable
- Strategies and resources (including mentors) you can utilize
- A system for tracking your progress
- Fallback positions for when you encounter potholes and detours
- People — The Boston Marathon attracts 25,000 participants and roughly half a million spectators each year. The number of qualified entrants and the large, cheering audience handing out cups of cold water do not make the 26.2-mile race any shorter. But the support and enthusiasm of the crowd and the momentum of the pack do provide most runners an extra boost on their journey to the finish line.
Family, friends, and coworkers can likewise give you the extra boost you require to reach your goal. Whether they are running alongside you, cheering you on from the sidelines, or handing you advice based upon their own scrapes and triumphs, enlisting the help of others dramatically increases your chances of success.
- Positivity — Mental attitude can carry you forward even when circumstances aren’t breaking your way. Is reaching for a goal a burden, a responsibility, a sacrifice, even a punishment? It can be, if you decide to think of it that way. But you can also picture your path as an adventure, an opportunity, a competition, and a growth experience. The task is the same regardless of how you view it. The outcome, however, is far more likely to be positive if you remain upbeat and optimistic at each step along the way.
Author: Jim Rohn
Let me pass on to you these four simple steps to success:
Number one is good ideas. Be a collector of good ideas. My mentor taught me to keep a journal when I was twenty five years old. I’ve been doing it now all these years. They will be passed on to my children and my grandchildren. If you hear a good health idea, capture it, write it down. Don’t trust your memory.
Then on a cold wintry evening, go back through your journal, the ideas that changed your life, the ideas that saved your marriage, the ideas that bailed you out of bankruptcy, the ideas that helped you become successful, the ideas that made you millions. What a good review. Going back over the collection of ideas that you gathered over the years. So be a collector of good ideas for your business, for your relationships, for your future.
The next step to success is to have good plans. A good plan for the day, a good plan for the future, a good health plan, a good plan for your marriage. Building anything is like building a house, you need to have a plan. Now here is a good time management question: When should you start the day? Answer: As soon as you have it finished. It is like building a house, building a life.
What if you just started laying bricks and somebody asks, “What are you building?” And you say, “I have no idea.” See they would come and take you away to a safe place. So, don’t start the house until you finish it. Now, is it possible to finish the house before you start it? Yes, but it would be foolish to start before you had it finished. Not a bad time management idea. Don’t start the day until it is pretty well finished — at least the outline of the day. Leave some room to improvise. Leave some room for extra strategies, but finish it before you start it.
And here is the next piece that is a little more challenging: Do not start the week until you have it finished. Lay it out, structure it, then put it to work. Then the next one is a little tougher yet; do not start the month until you have it finished.
And finally the big one, don’t start the year until it is finished on paper. It’s not a bad idea, toward the end of the year, to sit down with your family for the family structure plans, sit down in your business for the business plans, sit down with your financial advisor for your investments and map out the year… properties to buy, properties to sell, places to go with your family, lay out the year. I finally learned to do that. It was also helpful for my family to show them where they appeared on my calendar. You know I used to have my business things on there and I used to have my lectures and my seminars all laid out on my calendar, and guess what the children said, “Where are we on the game plan, please show us our names on the game plan.” So you need to do it for your children, for your spouse, for your friends.
Now, here is the third step to success, and it can be really challenging.Learning to handle the passing of time. It takes time to build a career, it takes time to make changes, so give your project time, give your people time. If you’re working with people, give them time to learn, grow, change, develop, produce. And here is the big one, give yourself time. It takes time to master something new. It takes time to make altered changes and refinement in philosophy as well as activity.
Give yourself time to learn, time to get it, time to start some momentum, time to finally achieve. It is easy to be impatient with yourself. I remember when I first tried to learn to tie my shoes. The shoe strings, it seemed like it would take me forever. Finally I got it and it didn’t take forever, but it seemed like for a while I’d never learn, I’d get it backwards; the bow goes up and down instead of across. How do I straighten that out? Finally I got it, it just took time.
Mama taught me a little bit about playing the piano. “Here is the left hand scale”, she’d say. I got that, it was easy. Then she said, “Here is the right hand scale.” I got that, that was easy. Now she said, “We are going to play both hands at the same time.” I said, “Well, how can you do that?” Now one at a time was easy… but at the same time? Looking at this hand and looking at that hand, finally I got it. Finally I got where I could play the scales with both hands.
Then I remember the day she said, “Now we are going to read the music and play with both hands.” I thought, “You can’t do all that.” But you know, sure enough I’m looking at the music, looking at each hand, a little confused at first, but finally I mastered it. It took a little time to read the music and play with both hands. Then I remember the day she said, “Now we are going to watch the audience, read the music and play with both hands. I thought, “Now that is going too far!” How could you possibly do that?
But see adding them one at a time and giving myself time to master one before we went to the next one; sure enough I got to where I could watch the audience, read the music and play with both hands. So the lesson here is: Give yourself time, you can become a better pro, you can better master the art of parenting, you can better master the art of managing time, conserving resources, working together as a partner. Give yourself time.
And here’s the last one; learning to solve problems. Business problems, family problems, financial problems, emotional problems, etc. — challenges for us all. Here’s the best way to treat a problem: As an opportunity to grow. Change if you have to, modify if you must, discard an old philosophy that wasn’t working well for a new one. The best phrase my mentor ever gave me was when he said, “Mr. Rohn if you will change, everything will change for you.” Wow, I took that to heart, and sure enough the more I changed the more everything changed for me.
So learn to master good ideas, have good plans, handle the passing of time and solve problems, and you will be on your way to more success than you could ever imagine!
Achieving Your Dreams the Right Way
“The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.” – Michelangelo Buonarroti, Renaissance artist
John is reflecting on the last goal that he set for himself…
Everything started well – he was making progress, he felt great about what he was doing, and he was excited about future possibilities.
But then things unraveled. The goal took longer to complete than he thought it would, and he became discouraged. And, because he didn’t stop to look at what he had achieved, he lost his drive and focus. Before he knew it, the goal – and the opportunities it would have brought – were forgotten.
In this article, we’ll look at some common mistakes that people make when they set goals. Learn how to recognize these mistakes, so that you can avoid making them yourself!
Mistake 1: Setting Unrealistic Goals
When you’re exploring possible goals, you need to unleash your imagination and ambition, put your reservations aside, and dream big dreams. However, once you’ve decided on a goal, make sure that it is realistic, and that you can actually achieve it in the time frame that you have set for yourself.
For instance, if your goal is to run a marathon, it’s wildly unrealistic to sign up for one next month, unless you’ve already done several months of training. Or, if your goal is to become CEO of a company, but you have no experience, this goal might not be practical – at least not yet!
To set realistic goals, use SMART Goal Setting strategies: make sure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Mistake 2: Focusing on Too Few Areas
Imagine that you’ve just written your list of goals for the next year. You’ve committed to increasing your sales by 15 percent, applying for a promotion, and reading one leadership book each month.
Although this is an ambitious but achievable list of goals, there’s a potential problem: these goals focus only on your career. You’ve completely omitted goals from other parts of your life.
Many people focus solely on their work when they set goals. However, you can’t neglect activities that bring you joy. Goals like writing a book, competing in an adventure race, or starting a home garden might also be incredibly important for your happiness and well-being.
So, when you set your goals, make sure that you strike the right balance between different areas of your life. And remember that “balance” is different for everyone – use the Wheel of Life tool to understand which areas of your life you need to focus on most.
Mistake 3: Underestimating Completion Time
How often has a task or project taken longer than you thought? Probably more times than you can count! You may also say the same for goals that you’ve set in the past.
If you don’t estimate goal completion time accurately, it can be discouraging when things take longer to achieve than you think they should. This can cause you to give up.
So, use Action Programs and effective scheduling strategies when planning your goals. And always pad your timelines to account for delays and setbacks. If you add extra time into your estimate, you’ll feel less pressure to rush and finish by a certain date.
Mistake 4: Not Appreciating Failure
No matter how hard you work, you will fail to achieve goals from time to time. We’ve all been there, and it isn’t fun!
However, your failures are what ultimately determine your character. They also contain lessons that can change your life for the best, if you have the courage to learn from them.
So don’t be too upset if you fail to achieve your goals – just take note of where you went wrong and use that knowledge to reach your goals next time around.
Mistake 5: Setting “Other People’s Goals”
Some people – family, friends, or even your boss – may want to influence the goals you set. Perhaps they feel that they know what’s best for you, or maybe they want you to take a certain path or do certain things.
Clearly, it’s important that you have good relationships with these people, and you need to do what your boss asks, within reason. However, your goals need to be your own – not anybody else’s. So be politely assertive, and do what you want to do!
Mistake 6: Not Reviewing Progress
It takes time to accomplish goals. And sometimes it can feel that you aren’t making much progress.
This is why it’s important to take stock of everything that you’ve accomplished on a regular basis. Set small sub-goals, celebrate your successes, and analyze what you need to do to keep moving forward. No matter how slow things seem, you probably are making progress!
You can also take this opportunity to update your goals, based on what you’ve learnt. Have your priorities changed? Or do you need to set aside some extra time for a particular goal activity? Goals are never set in stone, so don’t be afraid to amend them if you need to.
Mistake 7: Setting “Negative” Goals
How you think about your goal can influence how you feel about it, and whether you achieve it.
For instance, many people have a goal to “lose weight.” However, this goal has a negative connotation; it’s focused on what you don’t want – your weight. A positive way to reframe this goal is to say you want to “get healthy.”
Another example of a negative goal is to “stop staying late at work.” A positive way to rephrase this is to “spend more time with family.” Negative goals are emotionally unattractive, which makes it hard to focus on them. Reframe any negative goals so that they sound positive: you may be surprised by the difference this makes!
Mistake 8: Setting Too Many Goals
When you start setting goals, you may see many things that you want to accomplish. So you start setting goals in all areas.
The problem with this is that you have a fixed amount time and energy. If you try to focus on many different goals at once, you can’t give individual goals the attention they deserve.
Instead, use the “quality, not quantity” rule when setting goals. Work out the relative importance of everything that you want to accomplish over the next six to twelve months. Then pick no more than, say, three goals to focus on.
Remember, the success of your work towards a goal rests on focusing on just a few things at a time. If you limit the number of goals you’re working on, you’ll have the time and energy you need to do things really well!
Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or not.
The intuitive answer – that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others – is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.
1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague – be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.
2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.
To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.
3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress – if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently – weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.
4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.
5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed – that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills. Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong – abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.
6. Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.
7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body – when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother – don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.
8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way – many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.
9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior – by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.
If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.
It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.
Just a quick note to let you know that we have made a small change to the Life Balance Wheel reports page, where now it only shows charts for categories that are not empty. If a category is empty, then it will not be visible on the chart.
Also there is a new update to the iPhone app (version 1.0.4) now availabe on App Store. This update fixed a few more bugs related to data syncing and displaying tasks. If you haven’t upgraded, please make sure to remove your current app before installing the new one, and then do a manual sync from the “Settings” view. Your data is always saved on server so removing the iPhone app will not lose your data.
If you find syncing still not working for you, please let us know so that we can reset your sync key after you install the updated app.