Here at Financial Autonomy, our focus is typically on the money side of how you achieve your goals and gain the choice in life that you deserve. But of course, achieving big goals requires more than just a financial solution.
And so in today’s post we’re going to take a step back and consider things a bit more holistically.
1. Start with Why
Executing a plan to achieve a particular goal rarely goes off without any set-backs or things out of left field that you hadn’t considered. Adaptation is therefore an essential requirement in achieving success. In start-up land they call it a pivot.
The risk when faced with the need to make changes, is knowing which path is the right path, and that’s where being clear on your ‘Why’ is so crucial. Your Why is your magnetic north. It guides you towards progress through the normal twists and turns of life.
Let’s consider an example. You want to move to self-employment so as to have the flexibility to work around kids school drop offs and getting them to their after school activities. You use your skills as a compliance manager, built up over 10 years of employment, and start your own one person business, providing compliance services for 3 medium sized businesses, mainly from your home office with occasional site visits as needed. You’re working around 20 hours per week. You’d like a few more hours, ideally about 30, but all things considered, you’re in a good place.
One of your clients buys another business and in the process roughly doubles in size. They approach you about working 1 day per week on site at the new business to help with the integration. They would require you to be in the office at 8.30am until 5pm and the office is 30 minutes’ drive from home.
Now without a clear Why, this opportunity would seem to be a good one. You wanted more hours – well here they are. But because you have a clear Why you can consider whether in fact this opportunity is one you should be taking. It doesn’t provide flexibility, and the hours plus the commute don’t allow you to do the things with your children that was the whole reason for moving to self-employment in the first place.
Knowing your ‘Why’ makes your decision process an easier one.
2. Set your Goals
So you know why it is that you’re undertaking the change or challenge, the next step is to set some goals. There’s a few crucial elements in this phase.
To be useful the goals you set must be specific, not airy fairy and vague.
They must be attainable – unrealistic goals lead to disappointment and abandonment.
And very importantly you need milestones along the way to give you little boosts of positivity and confirmation that you’re making progress.
The SMART goals framework is very popular, you’ve almost certainly heard of it. The toolkit from episode 10 has some good information on how to use this framework to develop your goals, so if you haven’t already downloaded that one, you might want to grab it.
3. Develop your plan
The next logical step is to develop your plan as to how you will make your goals become reality.
Now the content and structure of your plan will depend very much on the goal you’re trying to achieve – retiring from paid employment in 10 years will require a very different plan to starting your own business in 12 months’ time. But a common element of all successful plans is setting aside the time to make it happen.
So let’s say your goal is to start a business in a years’ time. You develop a plan to acquire the skills you need, get the necessary permits or licences, build your web site, and fund the whole project. Hopefully you set milestones as to when each piece of the puzzle will be completed.
Now go and block out time in your diary to actually get it done. Maybe you set aside Sunday morning’s, or perhaps it’s after dinner on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The important thing is that you have deliberately set aside time to take action on your plan. Planning’s great, but you’ll never achieve your goals without actually getting the work done.
4. Take action – don’t procrastinate
You might recall back in episode 17 I devoted the entire post to the evil that is procrastination. Overwhelm is the primary cause, so if this is an issue for you, break your plan down into smaller chunks, and just focus on getting one piece done at a time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. None of us know everything, so if you get stuck whilst taking action on your plan, see if there’s someone you know that you could phone or email to help you move forward.
Another important element in the take action phase is to persevere. As mentioned at the start, things never go exactly to plan. If you quit at the first, or even the third hurdle, you’ll miss out on the benefits that achieving your goal would have delivered.
Now persevering is not the same as being oblivious to the outside world. If you launch a Side Hustle and you’re just not getting the customer response that you’d expected, you won’t get a trophy for stubbornly sticking at just to prove the world wrong. You need to be prepared to adapt as you learn more and as the external environment impacts on your plans. This takes us nicely back to our starting point – the importance of knowing your why. Armed with this guiding point, you can pivot as needed, and still keep moving towards the future that you seek.
So there you have it, the 4 essential elements to achieving your big life goals:
- Start with Why
- Set your Goals
- Develop your plan
- Take action – don’t procrastinate
I hope they help you gain the choices in life that you deserve.
Resources & Links
- Is your ladder against the wrong wall?
- Procrastination – 9 tips to combat this number one killer of Financial Autonomy dreams
- Change – essential considerations when making a Career or Life change
- What’s your number?