As the year wraps up, we’ll reflect on the past and plan ways to improve our lives in the new year. Many of us will announce life-changing New Year’s resolutions. Yet, less than 10% of us will keep them. Life changing goals are a lot of work! And it can be hard to know how to start. So, whether you call them goals or resolutions, here are 4 steps to help you plan and achieve your goals.
How to Plan so You Accomplish Your Goals
STEP 1: Clearly Define Your Goal or Resolution
Create specific goals. To achieve your goal, you want to clearly define what your goal is. If your goal is not specific enough, it’ll be hard to know what exactly to strive for or even know if you accomplished it.
This will also help you know if your goal is realistic. If you set out to accomplish a goal that is impossible to do, you can end up unnecessarily feeling deflated rather than energized by your success.
Here’s an example of setting a specific, realistic goal:
OK goal: I want to save more money
Better goal: I want to add $2,000 to my emergency fund next year
STEP 2: Create Mini Goals with Due Dates
The original goal may seem too big and overwhelming, but by creating mini goals, you can break it down into less scary, bite-sized goals.
And by setting due dates you avoid procrastinating working on your goal.
Let’s look at our example goal to save $2,000 in the next 12 months:
Goal by End of Year: I want to add $2,000 to my emergency fund next year
Mini Goal: Save an additional $167 every month for the next 12 months (the end of each month is the due date)
STEP 3: Create an Action Plan
Your action plan can help you detail how to reach your mini goals.
In our example, we figured out that we need to save an additional $167 each month to have an extra $2,000 at the end of the year.
You may have to do multiple things, such as cut back on your spend or find a way to make more money, to get to the $167 extra each month. And your action plan is where you’ll note what actions to take. It could even vary by month.
Here’s an example of a goal action plan:
|Action Item||Monthly Savings From
Cut Cable Costs
Streaming TV is much cheaper than cable
Between $50 to $100 each month, depending on options
Pack Lunch 1 Extra Day Each Week
About $40 each month
Avoid ATM Fees
The average user visits ATMs about 7 times each month.
Average ATM fee is about $4.57 per transaction.
About $32 each month
STEP 4: Save Your Goals Where You Can Find Them and Check Your Progress
The easiest way to not reach your goals is to forget you made them.
Whether you choose to make your goals on paper or digitally, make sure to save your goals and mini goals where you can find them.
And check your progress throughout the year to make sure you’re on track.