6 Steps to Setting Better Goals

This article originally appeared in our monthly newsletter, Fiscal Therapy.
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After a whirlwind holiday month packed with loads of people and activities for which I’m very grateful, I found myself short on time for reading and writing. Who knew applying to public kindergarten in New York City was so complicated?! In this month’s quick-fire Fiscal Therapy, I hope you find the following tips on goal-setting helpful as you set your sights on 2017. Happy New Year!

  1. Think Big: Start with the big picture in view. What is the end goal you have in mind?

  2. Now, Break it Down: Breaking your big-picture goal into smaller action items for today will make the goal more manageable and increase your prospects for success.

  3. Be More Specific: Take your goals from step one and two and write them down using the SMART method. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound. Example: Pay off my $5,000 of credit card debt in 12 months by increasing my monthly payments from $120 to $420 per month. To do this I’ll make coffee at home (saves $100 per month), limit myself to eating out twice a month instead of four times (saves $100 per month), and cancel cable and rely on Netflix (saves $100 per month).

  4. Cash Flow Awareness: Most often, saving more or paying off debt will require reducing spending in a meaningful way. You have to understand how you’re spending your money in order to understand how and where you can cut back. Try an expense tracking tool like Mint or simply review your bank and credit card bills.

  5. Tell Someone: Tell someone who will remind you of your goals when your focus and motivation is waning. Sharing your goals will increase your chances of success.

  6. Review & Remind: Make a plan to check in and review your progress regularly. You need to remind yourself of the why behind all of your efforts, and seeing small victories toward your larger goal will encourage you to keep it up.