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Planning for 2017 (Part 2)

After you have looked back at your accomplishments and short-coming for 2016 (being gentle and positive), it’s time to look ahead to 2017 and set some personal financial goals for the upcoming year. These goals should be tied to your values and not items that someone (even your financial planner!) thinks you should do. No, for goals to be be meaningful, they must come from within you.

That said, here are the five action items to set your 2017 personal financial goals.

  1. Be grateful for what you have. Research tells us that being grateful has a huge effect on our goals so let’s start out the New Year by being grateful. Think, again, of all that for which you are grateful and appreciative. Write down all the things for which you are grateful. Send thank you cards or just tell the most important people in your life that you are grateful to them.
  2. Eliminate the excess. Look at what you spent significant dollars on in 2016 and eliminate anything that can be taken away. If you have a gym membership that you’re not using that’s costing you $x a month, be honest with yourself and stop it. If you’re paying for premium cable and don’t use it, drop the extra cost. We all have extra things we spend money on that we don’t want or need so start the new year with a cleaner slate. Eliminate whatever excess you can find and you’ll feel lighter because that chain is removed.
  3. Set compelling personal finance goals. You are most likely to reach a goal when it uses your emotional energy. Choose three things that captivate you and really touch you emotionally. One way to think about goals is to ask yourself “what do I most want to be thankful for one year from now?” Think of things that will make you smile a year from now when you have made them happen. For example, you could set a goal to have saved $x for retirement by the end of 2017. Or you could set a goal to track your expenses during the year. Or you could set a goal to review all your insurance policies and protections in 2017 and make changes if necessary. Choose two or three things that really grab your gut and set those as your goals.
  4. Now break those goals down into smaller parts. Take an annual goal and divide it by four to make it a quarterly goal or even set monthly mini goals if you can. That way you can measure progress and have mini celebrations for achieving a mini goal or step up activity if you fell short for the quarter. There’s a saying in the leadership business that applies here: “What gets measured gets done!”
  5. Write down your goals and share them. This last step is important. There is something about putting pen to paper that make goal setting more concrete. You can even sign the piece of paper on which you’ve written down your goals. Achieving goals requires commitment and you are either 100% committed or you are 0% committed. The act of writing down goals and sharing them increases your commitment closer to the magical 100%.

There you go. Our two part 2017 personal financial planning guide. Follow the ideas I suggested in the last two posts and you’ll be more likely to have a happy and successful New Year.