How to Set Goals

Have you wondered how to set goals? Or at least how to set personal goals and actually stand a chance at reaching them?

how to set goals

Whether you are trying to set money goals as part of a family budget or are looking at all different areas for your goal planning, setting goals may be the easiest part of any goal. It’s making those goals you have set work for you instead of against you. Here are some helpful tips on how to set goals and make goal planning work for you.

  • Set smaller realistic goals. That’s not to say that you can’t have ambitious goals. Yet sometimes those bigger goals get overwhelming. You may not be able to see the progress that will keep you motivated if there aren’t at least shorter term goals (even if they are part of a larger one).
  • Focus on your strengths. Many goals are focused on “fixing” something that isn’t working quite the way you want. To be successful, though, you need to use what you do well to help with what you are trying to improve. For instance, if you and your family want to save more for college, look at what you already do well as a family with money. Are you great coupon clippers? Use the money saved from your grocery store trips to seed that college fund.
  • Make your goals positive and specific. New Year’s resolutions, in particular, often get framed negatively and way too vaguely for people to be successful. “I will lose weight” or “I won’t spend as much” often top the list. Those don’t sound positive to me. They sound like goal planning based on depriving you of something. What if your personal goals are focused on what you will gain? “I/We will save $100 each month for our family vacation to the lake this summer” not only sounds better, it is specific enough that everyone understands why you are saving.
  • Stay flexible and adapt your goals. Beating yourself up doesn’t help. It could just make you less motivated. Goals you set in January may be outdated by March. Update your goal planning and move on with a renewed focus that your adjusted financial goals or changed personal goals are better than the ones you started with. For instance, you may have wanted to teach your teen how to save money and have them saving $5 each week by the end of March. Then you figure out that your teen doesn’t have enough money management experience to be at the saving stage yet. That doesn’t mean that the goal isn’t worthwhile. It may mean that your teen needs to take a step back first – and then set a goal of saving that $5 each week by the end of the school year.

No matter what time of year you are goal planning, this list of tips can help you make your personal goals more meaningful. Learning how to set goals that are challenging but still achievable can be motivating and keep you moving forward in all areas. That can mean even more success for you and your family.

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