People often interchange goals and objectives, forgetting the fact that goals are future-focused. They describe the destination and are not inclusive of guidelines while objectives are measurable and within periods, they measure the progress that is required to reach the destination. Understanding the difference between both concepts will aid in developing goals that can be actualised.
For whatever reasons you might want to attain financial freedom, taking ownership of your finances is important. To set goals effectively you need to have an end game, decide on what you want; you also need an action plan, practical steps to ensure you accomplish your goals but more importantly you need a roadmap, without a plan you cannot achieve anything, you need a clear guide. To draw out a roadmap to achieve your goals, you need an action plan, and you can follow this guide to create one
- Make a list of your wants: It could be to spend within or below your means, to pay off some debt, to buy a house, to save for emergency etc. Scrutinise and rank them according to what is most important;
- Categorise goals according to time length required to achieve them: what can be done within a year (short term), the ones that might a few years (mid-term) and the ones that will take several years (long term).
- Follow the SMART acronym. Implement this by ensuring whatever goals set are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
- Be realistic about your budget: What works for A will not work for B. When you know how much income you will be getting perhaps monthly, it will help in making a better judgment as to how to spend it and what portion should be saved. It is important you carefully consider every expenditure before making it, put into account the possibility of inflation.
- You could get one of the many money-saving apps out there that automatically removes a designated amount of money from your account and saves it, some of these apps teach discipline by making you pay some money if you intend to withdraw the money before the stipulated time you previously entered.
- Review your progress to ensure you follow through with your goals, it could be weekly or monthly but go over your finances and see if you are making progress and how to adjust or improve.
It is important you write this plan out and not just put them in your head, get a partner who has similar goals, so you are both accountable to each other. Now that you have followed the roadmap in building a strategy for coming up with your goals, you can now successfully close the gap between where you currently are in terms of your financial freedom and where you need or intend to. Above all, make sure your plans are feasible, goal setting only works when you make practical plans and work earnestly towards achieving them