What do you want your life to look like? What would life be like if you were debt free? What if you didn’t have to work for money? Where do you want to be 10 years from now?
When you have a vision of what life could be like when you reach your financial goals, you can begin to figure out how to get there. And though formulating a plan for reaching those goals is a big step in the right direction, it’s still only a piece of the puzzle.
Having a goal is not enough. You have to get your thinking right. You have to really want it and you have to actually believe that you can get it. You have to stick with it, do the hard work and be willing to change direction. You have to pick yourself up after you fall. And you have to have patience.
Though money itself plays a role in your success, whether or not your reach your financial goals has more to do with your mindset than it does with the actual numbers.
13 Things You Need to Reach Your Money Goals
1. Know why you want it
Why do you want to reach your goal? You have to have a reason, an inspiration, a motivation to really want it. Your “why” will keep you going when the going gets rough and will provide the incentive and direction you need along the way.
2. Recognize the excuses
Excuses emerge when our mind tells us what we are thinking about doing could be uncomfortable. And we don’t like discomfort. But, here’s the thing, change is rarely comfortable, at least not at first. In order to make real progress, we have to do the things that are uncomfortable. So recognize the excuses for what they are – just your mind trying to tell you there may be some discomfort ahead.
3. Believe that you can do it
If you doubt your ability to accomplish your goal, you’ve set your goal in vain. Shifting your mindset from one of “I can’t” to “I can’t YET” and changing the inner voice of doubt is crucial.
Use others as motivation if you need to. Find inspirational stories of people who have accomplished a goal similar to yours. Study them. Take that knowledge and apply it to yourself. You can do it.
4. Be willing to listen and learn
You don’t have all of the answers within you. Take the initiative to learn that which you do not know, whether it be from people you know, books, videos, blogs, podcasts or professionals. Listen to people who have done what you want to do and decipher what works for you and what doesn’t. Fill in the knowledge gaps as you go.
5. Make a plan
Without a map, you’ll never reach your destination. Have a detailed plan stating the steps you will take to get to your goal. Don’t just say you have a goal, write it down with details on how you plan to do it – I know, it sounds hokey, but it works.
An important part of your plan should create accountability. Report your progress to someone on a regular basis (have a goal buddy) or make it public.
6. Commit 100%
Don’t do this because you think you “should”. Do it because you want it and commit to it 100%. Leave no doubt and no way out. You are going to do this. No days off, no excuses – you are 100% in!
If you give in to “just this once,” based on a marginal-cost analysis, you’ll regret where you end up. That’s the lesson I learned: it’s easier to hold to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time. The boundary—your personal moral line—is powerful because you don’t cross it; if you have justified doing it once, there’s nothing to stop you doing it again.” -Clayton Christensen
7. Start today
Procrastination is the enemy of success. It is never the “right time” to start anything. Even if it’s just something as small as writing down your goal, start doing something today. And then every day after that. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, do something, no matter how small, each day to work toward your goal.
8. Do the hard work
Change is never easy. Now that you’ve decided what you really want and what you have to do to get there, you have to actually take action. Even if it’s just small things each day, do the work. Nothing will change without the hard work.
If you have trouble doing the hard work, use the 5 minute rule. Do the work you need to do for just 5 minutes. At the end of the 5 minutes, you can step away and come back later, or you can continue on. Most of the time, you’ll find you’re ready to continue working!
9. Stay positive
You’ll have days where you think you just can’t do it. You’ll have people in your life that will tell you you can’t do it. Recognize the skepticism, smile, practice gratitude and ditch the negativity. This may mean ignoring or distancing yourself from negative influences and people in your life.
10. Stick it out
A little prep and planning can go a long way, but obstacles are sure to get in your way. Be prepared to ask yourself “how” you will get past those roadblocks and keep going. Ask “How can I get past this?” to come up with solutions.
11. Recognize the small wins
You may have one big goal that you want to reach, but you won’t get there in one fell swoop. It’s the small steps that will get you there. Those little victories along the way provide momentum you need to keep going. Focus on the small wins to make the overarching goal feel more actionable.
12. Don’t let mistakes stop you
Mistakes don’t mean you failed, they’re simply lessons. Rather than letting mistakes own you, own your mistakes. Learn the lesson, leave the mistakes in the past and keep moving forward with your newfound knowledge.
13. Be patient.
We have a tendency to always want to be 10 steps ahead of where we are. It’s okay if you don’t reach your goal at breakneck speed. The important thing is to keep going, no matter how slowly.*
Making a big change in your life requires more than just a goal. These 13 things will help you make big changes and put you on the path to successfully reaching your goal.
*It took my family almost a decade to pay off student loans and consumer debt, but we did it and enjoyed life’s journey along the way.
How has your mindset impacted your financial goals? How do you keep motivated when the road seems long?
Here are some tools that I use myself that you may find helpful:
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