Photo credit: Nicolas Lannuzel
Happy New Year, everyone!
It’s 2015 and for many people around the world, the New Year is traditionally a time where we set resolutions for the things we want to accomplish for the coming year.
‘I’m going to lose weight!’ (Especially after all the holiday feasting.)
‘I’m going to make more money!’ (Always a favorite.)
‘I’m going to pick up a new language!’ (And finally decipher what my girlfriend is actually saying.)
And so and so forth.
Resolutions are a wonderful way to remind ourselves of what we want to achieve and strive to be better versions of ourselves. The only thing is…
New year resolutions don’t actually work.
Think about it. (And think about your new year resolutions if you’ve made some already.)
How did you set the resolution?
You might have set resolutions like the examples shown above. But the trouble is those resolutions are vague, non-committal, and sound more like ‘wants’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. So I have to ask:
- How much weight do you exactly want to lose?
- How much money do you truly want to make?
- Do you actually have a girlfriend in the first place!?
Without any specifics, it’s going to be really hard to hold on to your resolution. Without specifics, how do you know that you’re achieving your goals in the first place?
Losing 200 grams by the end of 2015 also counts as losing weight. And it also means you could have chopped off your hair to trick the scale in your favor.
Making an extra $10,000 by end December also counts as making more money. But if you spend $30,000 more in the next twelve months, you’ll end up poorer than you started!
So while resolutions are a noble thing to have, what you and all of us really need to do is to set a goal. And not just any goal, but a SMART goal.
A SMART goal is:
- Specific. What is it that you specifically want to accomplish?
- Measurable. How will you measure your results so you know you’re reaching your goal?
- Attainable. Set a challenging goal that can be achieved with your current abilities and resources
- Relevant. Is this goal relevant to you and your overall objectives?
- Time-based. Set yourself a deadline to achieving your goal.
So if you take a limp, wimpy new year resolution like ‘I want to make more money’ and turn it into a SMART goal, this is what you’ll have:
‘I will increase by personal net worth by $250,000 by 31 December 2015.’
Now the goal is:
- Specific – Increase personal net worth.
- Measurable – $250,000 increase.
- Attainable – This is personal but remember to set a stretch goal.
- Relevant – Money is always relevant!
- Time-based – By 31 December 2015.
Create a plan
And then you set out a step-by-step plan to achieve this specific goal. For example:
- Understand my current financial standing. Find out what my current net worth and monthly income & expenses are.
- Lower my expenses. Cut out all frivolous spending and set a monthly budget for expenses. (Once you track your expenses and know how you’re spending your money, this is much easier to do.)
- Increase my income. Produce $100,000 more in sales commissions in 2015. (If your salary is fixed, you could earn a promotion, ask for a raise, make extra side income, etc.)
- Set aside monthly sum for investment. Instruct the bank to automatically direct $3,000 from my paycheck into my investment account every month.
- Increase my skill and understanding in investing. Visit investment & financial blogs daily, read two books about investment every month, and attend an investment workshop to short cut my learning curve.
- Grow investment portfolio by 35% in 2015. Spend an hour every night and eight hours every weekend to pick and analyze great stocks to invest in. Focus on five stocks that could potentially grow by 20-50%. Reinvest all dividends.
There you go! Now you have something to consistently work on every day, week, and month for the coming year to achieve your goal.
Just focus on 2-3 goals
You might have noticed that some of the steps in the plan are SMART goals in itself and require their own step-by-step plans. This will happen.
That’s why I personally like to set just 2-3 major goals every year, usually one goal in one particular area of my life (money, health, relationships, etc.) and just focus all my attention on them.
Because each major goal usually has many ‘sub-goals’ beneath it and setting too many goals can diffuse your focus. It’s easy to end up losing steam halfway through the year (or like, January. LOL).
And if you ever feel that any goal is too big to accomplish, remember this quote by one of the world’s most accomplished individuals ever.
“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
Henry Ford made and sold over 15 million Model Ts and he did it at a rate of over 9,000 cars a day — with a new Model T rolling off the assembly line every three minutes! And remember this was in the 1910-20s, an age when most people were still walking around or riding on horses.
Henry Ford basically created an industrial empire by breaking everything down to its smallest parts that even a brand new car could be produced in less time to boil an egg. Amazing.
But if all of that somehow goes over your head, you can also use this joke on yourself every time you feel your goals are too big to chew:
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
Happy 2015 again! And all the best for the year ahead! 🙂