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Make Meaningful Milestones: Set Your Goals

Make Meaningful Milestones: Set Your Goals "He who is fixed on a star does not change his mind." - Leonardo Da Vinci

Have you ever thought about how powerful setting specific goals can be? My sense is that you have so I am not going to spend a lot of time on why you should set goals. In my last article, I discussed how very important it is for you to clarify those things in life that are truly important to you - your values. Your values are what give you the inspiration for the achievement of your goals. Values are the intangible reasons, the things that fulfill and satisfy you whereas goals are the tangible results - those things that you want to achieve or accomplish. The first step in establishing your goals is to develop them, which is more fun with your partner, but can be done on your own. Ask this question: What are my tangible goals that require money and planning to achieve? Do you have an answer? If not, review those things in life that are important to you - your values - which are the emotional payoffs for the achievement of your goals. So, do you want to:
  • Be financially independent?
  • Retire?
  • Buy a second home?
  • Take a special trip?
  • Send children/grandchildren to college?
Not only is setting goals important, but writing them down is equally, if not more important!

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Why Write Down Your Goals?
The first reason you should write down your goals is so that you won't forget them. This may sound obvious, but have you ever awakened in the middle of the night with a great idea...only to fall back to sleep and when you awoke the next morning your idea was gone? How long does it take to forget your goals if you don't put them in writing? The second reason to write down your goals is that you now are committed to achieving them. You have big goals and big dreams - tangible financial milestones driving this long-term financial planning process. You have to be willing to take the initiative and spend a few minutes to write them down.
The last reason to write down your goals is that you are now accountable to the only person that you can't fool: you. There are a lot of people that you can fool, but there is only one that you can't: you!

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Shopping List
Did you know that going to the grocery store and writing down your goals have something in common? If you don't have a written list you end up wasting time, wasting money, acquiring things that you don't need and forgetting a lot of things that you do need. Remember those times when you went to the grocery store with a written list and when you went without one? What's the difference? Well, without a list, you probably bought more groceries, spent more money and time, and forgot things that you needed and bought things that you didn't need. With a list, your shopping experience seemed to flow and before you knew it, you were at the checkout line. The advantages of writing down your financial goals are the same as writing down your grocery list.

Dream With A Deadline
To really bring your goals to life, you must have specific dates for achieving them. Have you ever called your travel agent and asked to book a trip to a favorite destination? Your travel agent asks, "When do you want to arrive?" You say, "I don't know - whenever." How can that travel agent make plans for you? Know when you want to achieve your goals.

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Don't Be Realistic
I believe setting realistic goals is limiting. I think "realistic" is a secret word for "low." It really means setting goals so low that you can't fail. This is a strategy to avoid failure and never to achieve your dreams. Whether your goal is realistic is not determined by your goal, but by your willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Do you have a step-by-step plan of action for the achievement of your goals?

The Why Behind Your Goals
Once you've written down your goals, you can then see how they relate directly to those things in life that are most important to you. These values make your goals significantly more meaningful and motivational. They make life worth living. So get your goals on paper. The next step will be to benchmark your current financial reality so that you can begin to determine how to achieve your goals. Don't worry too much about the "how" to achieve your goals. The "what", "when", "how much" and "why" must be determined first. Your values should be the motivational force to get you going. Remember, the future will come whether you plan for it or not.

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