“Without the stairs of the past, you cannot arrive at the future!” — Mehmet Murat Ildan
Consider that your past decisions and steps (good or bad), brought you to this point and that the decisions you take today, will lead you into the tomorrow you consciously or unconsciously choose. Choose well.
It’s been said that ideas are cheap. However, it is your ability to take an idea and turn it into something tangibly useful that determines the size of your reward from ever having that idea.
What ideas are are on your mind as you approach the new year? One idea a lot of people have around this time of year is to make resolutions (which i find funny because you can actually resolve at any time during the course of the year to turn your life around for the better). Here are a few tips on better financial decision making as you forge ahead into the new year, which give or take is the next phase of your life.
1. Set goals. They need to be realistic. If they are too hard or too remote for you to chase after, there is every chance that you will give up on them.
2. Baby steps. Set pre or sub goals. The kind that when you achieve them, you feel and are empowered to take the next step in reaching the bigger goals. A good example to cover these two steps is to for instance set up an automated savings account that has no debit or credit card attached to it. It is automated in the sense that you fund it automatically by placing a standing order on your salary account to move a fixed amount to the savings account monthly on the same day. If you don’t have a salary account, get creative.
3. Raise the bar. Small steps that are actually implemented have a much higher chance of staying implemented. Then you can go on from that point and slightly raise the bar. Keep doing that until you hit your target.
4. Give yourself time. I remember falling ill and while undergoing treatment, instead of resting, i was fussing about the down time and what else i could be doing even though i clearly did not have the physical capacity to execute on any of my ideas or pending projects. Set your goal, give yourself time to achieve them.
5. Pay yourself first. In executing your financial goal, it’s okay to be selfish, sort of. Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame is a big proponent of this idea. For me, you have set a goal and you need to meet it for whatever reasons your have determined beforehand, so be selfish for once, pay yourself first.
6. Know your why. Financial independence. A vacation with the family. A dream car. Your own home. These are laudable goals with respect to bettering your overall financial position, but then you hit the mark and what is next? Knowing your why ensures that you move from step to the other on the way to your financial goal without falling over and not getting back up.
7. Hop. Step. Jump. A hop is your first set of steps on your way to better finances. A step is a pause – your time for review – to make sure you are on track and to make course corrections where needed. A jump is your leap – the next set of actions leading to the next level of your goal. This review can be done quarterly to give time to fairly assess your current action, inaction and to accommodate the course corrections.
8. Have a specific financial plan. The more specific, the better. Try not to join the bandwagon of those who set vague goals such as pay off debt or save more money. Instead, have clear and measurable financial goals. For example, commit to putting $200 monthly into your automated savings account that we mentioned earlier. This makes it easier to track progress, stay motivated and adjust your plan if needed.
— Bethy Hardeman, personal finance expert at Tally.
9. Take massive action. This step is simple: Make a huge step forward. Plan out the vacation you’re saving for. Scout potential locations for the home you want to buy. Remember again to be flexible. Work your strategy and build your culture all the while not losing sight of your financial goal. (Hat tip to Tony Robbins.)
10. Find your how. Make sure, the why of your financial goals is something truly meaningful – not just a feel-good quick fix or applying a band-aid to a deeper problem. This way it makes it easier for the how of reaching the goal to be implemented.
Let us end this piece with two stories.
Watch Your Coffee*
When Tony Robbins was a young man, his mentor, Jim Rohn, instilled in him a lesson that has persisted for decades.
“Do you realize how powerful your mind is?” Rohn asked Robbins.
“I think so,” he said, hesitating.
“Well, tell me something,” Rohn said. “What if you let anybody put anything you want in your coffee? What if your worst enemy put sugar in your coffee? What’s going to happen?”
“I’ll have sweet coffee,” Robbins replied.
“What if a family member, a friend or somebody by accident dropped strychnine in your coffee?” Rohn then asked.
“I’m dead,” Robbins said.
“Well, guess what? Life is both sugar and strychnine. You better watch your coffee,” Rohn said.
Guard your heart. Guard your mind. Be very selective of what news or information you allow in. What you hear, controls your life and places you on a path you inevitably follow.
Don’t drown in information while starving for wisdom. – Tony Robbins.
Life Is Growth
In early 2009, Ben Landers* was setting objectives for Blue Corona, his year-old digital-marketing company in Gaithersburg, Md. The startup had earned $112,000 in revenues its first year but was still losing money. Landers wanted to nudge Blue Corona solidly into profitability, reaching $1 million in annual sales in three years.
He shared his goals with his mentor, Bob Perini, founder of the water-delivery company DrinkMore Water, which is in the same town. “That’s completely reasonable,” Perini scoffed. “It’s also completely uninspiring.” Perini suggested an alternate goal for Blue Corona: to earn a spot on a prestigious list of the 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S.
It was, Landers thought, “absolutely ridiculous. We would have to have a three-year growth rate exceeding 1,000 percent to make the list.” But Landers accepted the challenge, with Perini’s assurance that “even if you fail miserably, you’re going to learn way more and teach your employees way more than if you stuck to your puny goals.” And a funny thing happened. “Once you eliminate the fear of failure, you can accomplish amazing things,” Landers says. “A part of me felt that we were going to fall flat on our faces. But another, bigger part passionately believed we could do it. And that belief was like a lever leading us to do things differently.”
The result? Blue Corona actually exceeded its audacious objective.
Today Landers says he thinks of goals not merely as benchmarks or endpoints but as a propulsive force. “A goal has the ability to sustain the mission when the going gets incredibly difficult,” he says.
Choose the right goals and watch yourself grow exponentially. Let us be your guide on this path.
Have a fruitful next phase of life.
*Courtesy of SUCCESS