If you’re a reader of financial planning and investment articles, you’ll notice that at certain times of the year, there are topics that always come up. In the month of December, it’s things to do before year-end. In the first few months, it’s all about taxes. These topics are valuable and it’s always worthwhile to review these subject areas in your own planning. There are things that many people can tweak to make their financial life better. If you’re looking for these tips, they’re not in this article – hit up Google and it’ll give you a plethora of information.
In my frequent day-dreaming, I came up with a thought - there doesn’t seem to be a time of year (except quick answers at parties on December 31st) where it is encouraged for people to deliberately review what has happened in the last 12 months, and what they hope is to come in the next twelve, and putting steps into place to make it happen. It’s easy to go through life with a vague sense of what you want to accomplish, and thinking that you are working to achieve these things, but without reflection and purposeful planning, do these things come to fruition like they were originally intended?
As we close out another calendar year and start anew, I would encourage you to review three things:
- What are the long-term goals you’re working on?
- How did you progress in achieving them in the last 12 months?
- How do you intend to further progress in the upcoming 12 months?
I can understand how this may sound pie-in-the-sky, so let me give you a personal example. In 2016, my goal was to grow my business income so I could keep growing my salary from 2015. I didn’t have a metric in place (for example, “20% gross increase in 2015”), it was literally to increase it. Since starting my own business three years ago, my gross revenue has slowly climbed, but I’ve kept my salary as small as our household needs would allow. But 2016 was a rough year for the first 7 months. My client roster shrank, I started drawing from my business reserves for my salary, and I wondered not only if I was going to be able to exceed last year’s revenue goals, but more importantly, keep my business alive. Through some re-branding, professional partnerships and additional revenue streams, the latter part of year worked out well. My income increased so much that I did exceed my 2015 revenue, my client roster swelled to levels that were more comfortable and things have become more stable. As I look into 2017, I have increased my revenue targets and am brainstorming how to reach those numbers. I will need to put measureable goals and metrics in place so it can become something that is tracked, managed and adjusted.
So how does this equate to your situation?
What goals have you been working on in past 12 months – either professional or personal? Did you make progress on them during that time period, or did things seem to move backwards? (Backwards is fine, BTW, as long as the focus to keep moving forward is there). Were your goals or progress even measureable (“Getting Healthy” becomes one that is hard to measure)? How do you think you’ll intentionally work at progressing on these goals in the next 12 months? How will you set up milestones to track this progress, and what actions will you take should you not meet those milestones.
I’ll give another personal example that strikes more to personal goals: I love sleep, and have done since I was a teenager. If I could sleep for 9 hours and then take a 1-hour nap every day, I would, but it doesn’t fit our household routine or my workload! I’ve always envied those who can get up at 5am and start their day with a “Bang!” and be hyper-energized by 7am. From reading Hal Elrod’s “Miracle Morning” book, I decided to see if I could channel that envy into action. For a period of a month, I got up every day at 5:30am and spent 90 minutes meditating, journaling, reading and working out. (I can feel the early morning commuter’s eyes rolling now at that wake-up time – it’s not that early for some!). It was until I caught a cold that turned into bronchitis that my progress slowed and I needed the rest.
But with that illness cleared, I’m now intent on getting back into that routine. After 30 days of making it part of my morning, it became a habit of my life. My mood was lighter, my days were consistently more productive, and I noticed my mind and body appreciating the change.
So how does this work going into 2017? I’m making a goal that this process will become a normal part of my day, but with the caveat that I can have two cheat days per month where I can sleep in. I’ll be tracking my sleep, meditation, exercise and journaling through apps on my phone so I can measure the progress and results.
Is there something that you may have dabbled with, that you’d like to turn into a goal for the next twelve months? Is it something that can be measured and managed through apps or accountability partners? Can you take bite-size chunks out of the goal, so each month you’ll know how you have improved?
My encouragement to you is to decide what that goal might be and set attainable monthly goals to check your progress. While your finances may have some fixes that can be made, imagine how it would feel twelve months from now (when you repeat this exercise) and know you’ve achieved something much greater – you’ve made yourself a better version of yourself.
I’ll check in with you in twelve months and I’ll be telling you how 12 months of changing my morning routine, exceeding 2016’s revenue goals, and furthering my Spanish conversation skills through classes (my new goal) have gone. Go get it!