It’s so easy to just float along.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it is not just a good approach to raising toddlers, it can be a whole of life game plan.
But there will come a day when you’re sick of going sideways. When rinse and repeat just won’t cut it anymore. Whether it be career progress, building wealth, or physical health and fitness, one day you’ll wake up and decide it’s time for a change – time to move forward.
Today’s episode provides a simple 5 step road map for how to achieve progress in making the change that you seek. For an audio blog whose focus is all about gaining choice, I’m not sure how we made it to 106 episodes without exploring this already. Better late than never I guess.
Step 1 – Get clear on your goals
We talk about goal setting and being clear on your “why” a lot but that’s because it is so important. If you are to make any forward progress, you need to know where forwards is. Your goal might, for instance, be to become debt free. Whereas my goal might be a tree change style move. The actions necessary to bring either of these to reality are going to be vastly different, and this why spending some time clearly identifying your goals is so important.
Before we move on let’s quickly touch on what good quality goals look like. Let’s say your goal is to leave your current job and become a police officer. To give yourself the best chance of success, at the very least put a date to it. So for example “by the end of the year” I want to be in the police force.
If your goal is to buy a holiday house near the beach, then a time frame might be helpful, but so to might location, and perhaps budget and size of property.
Bottom line, ensure your goals are crystal clear – no wishy washy stuff here.
Step 2 – Develop a plan that includes milestones
With your goal clearly defined you now have your destination nailed down. The next step is to plan your journey.
We know that happiness comes from making progress towards meaningful goals. Armed with this knowledge, the use of milestones is the secret to success.
Thinking about the goals mentioned earlier, to become a police officer, milestones might include getting into good physical shape, perhaps entering a 10km fun run. Lodging your application will of course be another item to tick off. Maybe there are some financials items that need to be sorted – if your income will drop during initial training, then perhaps an important milestone is getting the car loan paid off or the credit card cleared.
If your goal is the beach house, then milestones might include getting your current mortgage repaid, or building up $50,000 in the bank for a good sized deposit.
Step 3 – Monitor your progress on a regular basis
If you’re to succeed in moving ahead, you need to be able to pat yourself on the back at fairly regular intervals. In step two you set the milestones that you needed to tick off to reach your goal. Step three is simply checking in regularly to monitor progress to those milestones.
The way I do this is I have an item in my calendar to check our personal balance sheet once a quarter. I’ve spoken in the past about a goal of my wife and I to be able to spend 2-3 months per year living overseas once our kids have finished secondary school – now 5 years away. There’s several facets to making that goal a reality, but one is paying off some debt so that we have more free cash flow. Checking our personal balance sheet each quarter confirms that our debt is going down, our net wealth position is rising. Seeing that progress gives me energy to keep on going. It’s like the school teacher or sports coach giving you praise – it puts air in your tyres.
For the aspiring police officer who needs to get fit, running 5km might be the first milestone. Perhaps getting under a certain time at a Saturday Park Run event might be next. Then stretching the distance to 10k’s. There’s plenty of milestones you could create.
Remember, happiness is about making progress, and ticking off milestones are the key to using this positive feedback loop.
Step 4 – Be flexible and adapt
Life happens. Things don’t always go to plan. And sometimes circumstances change. Your goal was the beach house but you’ve been enjoying hiking recently and have decided that something near a National Park would actually suit you better. That’s okay. Don’t throw away your plans, just adapt them to your revised goal.
Perhaps you lost your job and so your savings goal was put in deep freeze for 6 months. Don’t quit, just adjust your goals and move forward. If everything went completely to plan, what a boring life we would lead.
Persist – goals worth achieving are rarely achieved in a short time and without a few obstacles along the way.
Step 5 – Share your plans with someone
For a career change goal, it might be your partner. For some goals a close friend might be best. For financial goals your financial planner should certainly be in the loop and helping you make progress.
What’s helpful is someone to keep you accountable and give you a bit of a push along when you have inevitable flat periods. This circles back to where we started – it’s easy to float along. Even those with the best plans and goals sometimes lose drive. This is where your accountability partner can help. I’ve found that even just the knowledge that I told this person that I’d do X by the end of the month helps me in getting that task done – even if they never think to check that I did it.
Well, that’s my 5 steps for helping you shift from spinning your wheels to moving ahead with purpose. Don’t forget that we’ve got various free downloadable resources for you that might be helpful in getting you moving ahead. For instance if your goal is taking time out for travel and adventure, the Mini Retirement Checklist would likely be helpful.
If instead your goal is around a career change, and especially if it’s a move to self-employment, then the 1 Page Side Hustle Business Plan will be invaluable. The Investing: How to get Started toolkit would be useful if you need to build up some wealth to achieve your goals, and the Early Retirement for Australians – the Multi Phase Approach will help if your goal is to escape the rat race ASAP and live the quieter life. So visit the Financial Autonomy web site to download those and see what else we’ve got that might help you gain the choice in life that you deserve.
Thanks for listening, and until next week, bye for now.
Resources & Links
- Free Toolkits and Resources
- Mini Retirement Checklist
- 1 Page Side Hustle Business Plan
- Investing: How to get Started
- Early Retirement for Australians – the Multi Phase Approach