Are you struggling to make progress towards your goals?
Updated: Feb 25, 2020
We all know we should be saving money. Some of us make it a priority and other people it is like pulling teeth, but there is a broad consensus that saving money is a good thing. But what are you saving for? Are you saving for a big house? Are you saving for a fancy car? Without a very clear goal, I think saving your money is a waste of time and energy.
If you are saving your money, you should have a goal of what you plan to do with it. This will make it a lot easier. I heard this quote, and it really struck a chord with me; it said,
"You don't achieve your dreams. You buy them."
A lot of people have this rosy depiction of retirement in their heads that when they become old, everything in life will just become easy. This quote is more accurate. Things in life do not just happen. You have to make them happen.
The sooner you can pinpoint how you want your life to look, the better. Knowing what you are saving allows you to save for your dreams, instead of just saving because your mom told you to.
What does it actually look like?
For some people, this might be hard to visualize, so I will give you a personal example. My fiance and I have spent a fair amount of time talking about what we want our dream life to look like. So here it is:
Live on a body of water - ocean or lake
Travel - a weekend trip every other month and one big trip per year
Beautiful Kitchen for hosting dinner parties
Flexibility to work in jobs, because we want to not because we have to
Most of those seem pretty standard. The last one may seem a little odd to include as a dream you are working toward. Many would say if they achieved their dreams, they would never work again. I would caution against this notion. Countless studies show when people stop working, their health starts to decline because they do not have anything purposeful to do.
Others might think this dream is too specific, but that is the point. It is easy to put a specific dollar amount on every single part of that dream. This specificity allows us to make progress towards these goals every day.
When it comes to goal setting, I would rather be too specific than too vague. If your dreams are too ambiguous, it is impossible to quantify progress. If it is hard to quantify progress, you will probably give up.
We all know that person who starts the year and says they want to get in better shape. They usually will give up because that is too vague. But if someone says I want to be able to run a mile in 8 minutes, they have a better chance of doing it. They know where they stand today and understand where they are going.
Just because you set a specific target does not mean you will reach it, but it can give you peace of mind that you are getting closer!
How these goals change daily behavior?
Since every goal has a price tag associated with it, this means that to make progress toward it, we need to change how we are spending our money. Notice how I did not say we need to stop spending money. Too many people get overly aggressive when they set out to achieve something like this and end up burning out.
The way I keep control of my financial purchases is I ask myself a simple question before I buy anything big. Big for me, is anything over $100.
"Will this purchase get me closer to achieving my dream lifestyle?"
I know some people are like I don't want to micromanage my money that much, then raise the amount you consider big. What I am trying to get at is if the answer is no, you have to ask yourself, "Is this purchase bringing me so much value that I am willing to put off achieving my dreams for this?" I am not saying you should never splurge on some travel or a fancy gadget. What I am saying is by realizing that everything action you take today is mapping toward those goals you have set for yourself. You won't achieve your dreams, because you hoped for them, you will achieve them because you worked for them.
Please do not become the middle-aged man who doesn't really consider himself a car guy, but buys an expensive sports car. This kind of purchase can delay your dreams for potentially a decade or two. The flip-side to this is if you do consider yourself a car guy. Buying and working on your own sports car is one of your goals. This purchase isn't getting in the way of achieving your dreams, it is one of them.
How to start applying this to your life
This was a long article, but this is something I am really passionate about. So if after reading this you want to start applying this to your life immediately here are the 4-Steps you should take:
Sit down and come up with what you want your ideal life to look like and be very specific
Find out the cost of each of these goals. If you are unsure, Google it!
Start asking yourself "Will this purchase get me closer to achieving my dream lifestyle?" before making any big purchases
Create a document with a graph that you can update every time you get paid to track your progress
If you start doing this, I can almost guarantee you will start looking at life differently. Each day you are earning money will be one day closer to achieving your dreams.
About the Author
I am a 25-year-old writer writing about topics that I am interested in and passionate about. Those topics right now are personal finance, business, and some self-help. I try to bring to my unique perspective to any article I write and hope that my perspective can provide value to my readers. If you have any comments or questions around any of my articles or if you have suggestions for future articles, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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