Many people would never take a road trip without a GPS or map, but often operate their lives without a plan or a goal. Just like in road trips, you need to take the time to plan, prioritize, and determine where you are going if you want to hit your destination. Without the plan or goal it is very easy to get off track with the distractions that show up in life. Having a plan helps to keep you focused on your goals and allows you to have an early warning when you are deviating from the path.
For example, if your destination is to become debt free, it is important to take time to develop a financial plan to help to get there. Part of a solid financial plan is a budget. This budget will help to keep you focused when you have your eye on that new dress, an unplanned concert ticket purchase, or even avoiding cooking dinner in favor of take out.
Although it sounds easy, sometimes it can be a little challenging to know exactly where and how to start. Therefore, I provided 5 tips that will help you learn how to effectively plan and prioritize so you can create and adhere to the goals that you create for your life and finances.
Just start. If you are waiting for the perfect time, you will wait forever. There will never be a perfect time so just start.
SMART Goals. When you’re creating your goals, focus on making them Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Based. Start small and build. Don’t try to tackle world hunger when you make these goals. Trying to do too much too soon, can lead to frustration and stagnation. Also, make sure that you can effectively track and take action towards your goals.
Check-in plan. Once you set a goal, the next step is to continue to check in to monitor your progress. This is why it is so important to create goals that you can track. If you decided to create a budget, you may want to analyze how the budget is working for you. Establish the frequency to check-in so you will understand your progress.
Tweak as necessary. Where you start isn’t necessarily where you end up finishing. Once you develop the plan and continue to follow-up, use your learning to modify and adjust as necessary.
Reward yourself. It is important to stick to your goals, but it is also important for you to establish a reward system for staying on track. This gives you something to strive towards. This also creates a positive association between your brain and the activity. Just make sure that the reward doesn’t blow the budget.