How To Set Goals

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[The following is a partial transcript of this episode of The Scott Alan Turner Show. Listen to the full episode to hear this story, listener questions, money hacks, and inspiring stories of people that are changing their financial lives. Subscribe to the free podcast on iTunes or Google Play]

Too many people fail at making their dreams become reality, because they haven’t created the necessary plan to make the dream come true.

Goals are what turn your dreams into realty

It’s a bit like baking a cake. Dreaming of the cake doesn’t cause a piece to end up on your plate. There are a list of ingredients to buy and a set of instructions to follow in a specific order, and BOOM! – cake!

Success leaves clues in life. And if you look at people that have had success, you will find those with the most success had goals.

There are people, that

  • have never set goals,
  • don’t have goals
  • or aren’t sure how to make a goal

At some point each of us didn’t even know what a goal was, except in soccer. Most people who set goals take it for granted they know how to do it and to other people it’s a foreign concept. And if you have set goals before, listen in because you might pick up something new or a new way to help someone else achieve their goals.

Goals must be specific & measurable

You might say

  • Wouldn’t I want to be debt free
  • Wouldn’t I like to get healthier
  • Wouldn’t I like to be in a career I love
  • Wouldn’t I like my relationships to be better

Those are all excellent and good, but right now they are just a wish.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure

For your success daily/weekly/and monthly steps are needed.

If you set a goal to pay off a $12,000 debt in twelve months, you know you’ll need to come up with an extra $1,000 a month either from cutting expenses, increasing your income, or some combination of the two. That’s how specific you need to get to win.

Goals must have a date

“Nothing hurts like a date” my boss Jon Reese told me once. And I never forgot it. Today when I’m speaking with someone about what they are trying to do, where they are trying to go, or something they want to change, I’ll always ask ‘so when are you going to have that done by.’

People are used to being challenged like that, because it requires a commitment. Oh, now they think they have to get it done.

That date is a part of what makes that goal a reality. Once you have a date, you can work backwards and figure out what you need to do each day or week. You should review your goal and your progress at least weekly, preferably daily.

If I’m writing a book, I know I need it will be at least 40,000 words. That’s 500 words a day for 80 days, or about three months. It takes about 30-60 minutes to write or speak 500 words. Suddenly an entire book isn’t such a monumental task because it gets broken down into smaller goals.

If you want to lose twenty pounds by swimsuit season or by the beach vacation, when is that? And how much weight would you need to lose each week to hit that date? If it’s twenty weeks away, that’s a pound a week. That’s very doable unless your hitting the donut line every morning instead of hitting the gym.

Goals must be written down

I’ve heard this over and over from people making $20,000 a year to people making $20,000 a month. You know this too – when you write stuff down, there is power in that. You know your brain is getting fired up and:

  • It makes it real
  • It helps you achieve your goals
  • It helps you track your progress
  • It keeps you accountable

For some added juice, find a picture of what you’re after and place it where you can see it each day. Is the goal to pay cash for a new car? Then pick out a picture of the new car and use it as your wallpaper on your phone. Or stick it up on your bathroom mirror.

For you to lose weight, start a business, become debt free, write a book, save up some money, your goals need to be specific, they need to be measurable, and they need to have a date.

Goals need to be important (to you)

If someone tries to set a goal they don’t care about finishing, it’s going to never get finished, it’s going to get done half-baked, or it’s just not going to be very exciting.

A married couple where only one person has a goal to get out of debt isn’t going to get out of debt. You both have to have that dream and work that plan together to make it happen.

If I set a goal for my kids to be great guitar players but one wants to be a singer and the other wants to play sports instead, it’s not going to happen. They have to want that.

Start today

There is no magic on January 1st that you can’t find any other day of the year. You can set a goal today. I think most people use that day because it comes after all the spending and eating during Christmas week and they get those post holiday blues.

So what do you want to accomplish in your life?

One of the first meetings Katie & I had with a financial planner was setting goals. I had never set a goal in my life that was written down up until then. And looking back at that list from 13 years ago, we hit them all. Some took longer than others, because priorities change, life happens, and we all take detours along our journey.

The important thing is you keep at it and you will experience big life changes. I don’t want you to miss out on this, so make sure you start thinking about your goals and schedule this weekend some time to write them down.

Write down a goal to write down your goals.


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