We can get caught up in the treadmill of daily responsibilities and lose track of who we are and where we want to go. At least once a year we need to step back from our daily routine and view our lives from a broader perspective.
Take the time to do some personal strategic planning. Most successful businesses wouldn’t dream of going without a strategic plan, and neither should you.I know, everyone comes up with a list of New Year’s resolutions that we seldom achieve. So why bother? I think the process itself is good because it forces you to think about who you want to be and what you want to accomplish. You may not reach all of your goals, but you will accomplish more than you would have without a plan. It’s hard to achieve goals that you fail to set for yourself.
Start by evaluating your values — what is important to you and what are you thankful for? What do you need more of in your life and what should be cast aside? Once you clearly identify your values, you can set meaningful goals for 2013. When your goals are in line with your values, you are more likely to monitor and achieve them. You will find that reaching your goals will be much more relevant and rewarding.
Evaluate your current situation. How much are you actually spending and saving each month? How much of your spending is necessary, and how much is discretionary? How do your expenses compare to your income? Have you established an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses?
Think about what you want to accomplish over the next five years. Make a list of 30 to 50 goals that you would like to meet over the next five years. I know, that’s a lot! Approach it as a brainstorming exercise. At this point, don’t evaluate the importance of each goal; just write what comes to mind.
If you are having difficulty identifying 30 to 50 goals, try setting goals in specific areas of your life such as relationships, health and fitness, career, social and entertainment, money and finance, spirituality, education and community. Once your list is created, categorize your goals by importance and timeframe. Identify five high-priority goals that must be accomplished over the next year. Develop action plans for your high-priority goals. Focus on important goals that you are having difficulty achieving; don’t spend time on good practices that you have already established.
Now go back and review your expenses. Are your spending and saving habits congruent with your long-term goals? Use the list of goals you have assembled to develop a spending and savings plan that supports your personal strategic plan. Once you have a clear picture of where you are and where you want to go, you can take control of your life.
Jane Young is a Certified Financial Planner and she can be reached at Gazette@ItsNotJustMoney.com.