Last week, I went to Utah to exhibit at a trade show for the main hustle, which provided some much-needed perspective. I can see how much I’ve changed while much of what’s around me stays the same. I hear those around me talk about what they want to change, yet their choices remain as they were prior to such declarations. I can sympathize. I used to approach life the same way. There’s a quote I often reference about doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results, and it seems apt for this realization.
Before 2015, we tried for years to make changes in our life with little success. There are so many we know who want to change their lives and have neither the willpower nor the knowledge to make change happen. If you think that sounds like you, I hope this post is helpful. I find the information I gain daily from the personal finance blogosphere to be invaluable and applicable to many facets of life beyond money.
Goal setting was the reason we started on this journey and goals are the reason we persist in our desire to be financially independent by May 2019, if not sooner. Meeting so many amazing outdoorsy people in Utah last week, as well as the director of the National Park Services, reaffirmed every decision we’ve made in our efforts to achieve financial independence–national parks are where we belong.
Here’s how we set the financial goals that motivated us to change.
Goal Setting Tip #1: Know and Accept Thyself
Last week, Maggie at Northern Expenditure wrote about acceptance and its relationship to goal setting. Maggie makes excellent points about knowing one’s self well enough to even be able to set achievable goals. In the past, I was guilty of a nearly complete lack of self-awareness and I went so far as to ignore what I wanted thinking that I couldn’t achieve it or didn’t deserve it. Now, it’s 2016 and I want to achieve far more than I ever have before, which is possible now that I am more knowledgeable and confident.
Goal Setting Tip #2: Write Down Your Goals
I find it important and necessary to write down all of my goals and to maintain a running list to keep my goals in the forefront; this helps me forgot the nonsense that could get in the way. Paper and pen and Excel both work beautifully. You can also put your goals into a blog post for future reflection like Sarah at The Yachtless. Sarah has divided her goals in a way that makes sense to her, which is a critical component of goal setting! Goal setting is truly an art and there is no one methodology that will work for everyone; try setting goals that speak to your heart.
Check out these 2016 goals from Twitter!
@twocuphouse Make more, spend less, invest more 🙂
— Fervent Finance (@ferventfinance) January 10, 2016
@twocuphouse Stop working and travel the world! ?
— The Resume Gap (@TheResumeGap) January 10, 2016
@twocuphouse Finish my debt and become my own boss??
— Freedom From Money (@taymilam) January 10, 2016
@twocuphouse At this point, not go broke. 🙂
— ThinkSaveRetire.com (@ThinkSaveRetire) January 11, 2016
@twocuphouse Triple my income and make a commercial real estate investment! You?
— Millennial Money Man (@GenYMoneyMan) January 12, 2016
Goal Setting Tip #3: Create a Budget You Love
As Maggie mentioned in her post, resolutions involving money are quite popular. I imagine that popular budgeting tools, such as Mint or Personal Capital, see quite the uptick in traffic in January, especially since they are free. Personally, we use Mint, but not every tool fit everyone perfectly.
However, these personal finance tools alone won’t create a budget for you or tell you how to spend money. For nearly 3.5 years, Garrett and I continued to try and budget via Mint and we failed every time. Our spending always exceeded our budget and our income. Once we learned more about ourselves and our spending, then we figured out where we could optimize. We try to be frugal when spending matters less so that we can spend more when spending matters most–i.e. we prefer travel to restaurants, so we have more money going to our travel budget every month and far less going to restaurants than we did before. Now, we love our budget and we’re closer than ever to achieving our goals!