What’s the best way to identify and set goals?

Without goals, we can feel like we’re just moving through life, with no real sense of direction.

Without goals, it’s really easy to slip into a rut.

Goals can motivate us.

They give us a purpose, a reason to try that bit harder, get up that bit earlier, go that bit faster. They help us be that bit better, which sets us up for success.

But goals can be tricky to identify. Sometimes it is easier to work out what you DON'T want, in order to figure out what you DO want.

Here’s an example. Ten years into my working life, I looked at my bank account (and my finances in general) and realised that my habits here were in a pretty dire situation. It was scary, and I set myself a goal to be better with my money.

So I started reading books, and talking to people who had great money habits. I tried. I failed. I picked myself up and fumbled forward. Ultimately, I kept going. I didn’t let hiccups hold me back. Years later, while I haven’t fully arrived at my destination of being great with my finances, I now have a great mindset when it comes to money, and a willingness to continue to grow.

Here’s how I did it.

To achieve a goal (whether it’s around money and saving, or studying, or exercise) it’s important that you set small, easy-to-implement goals.

So where do you start?

My first mentor, Bill, taught me something extremely valuable about money. He asked me what my monthly spend rate is, how much of it I control and what I’m going to do about it? Often when we had these conversations, I’d get frustrated by his questions (not answers) to my questions.

But that was the point. I had to work it out for myself. Unless a goal is yours, you won’t want to work for it.

Bill suggested I do the following:

  • Identify money in and money out
  • What I must spend and vs what I want to spend
  • Set a financial buffer
  • Allow yourself a small percentage each month to spend without a negative impact
  • Monitor your spend weekly
  • Adjust monthly

These activities became the smaller goals that contributed to my overall goal, and my ability to be a great money manager.

How can you apply these tips to your own goals? First, work out what you don’t want, to figure out what you DO want. Ask yourself what consequences you will have to live with based on your current habits. This will point you in the direction of your next goal. Once you have the goal, break it down into actionable smaller goals that you can monitor on a regular basis.

Feeling stuck?

Talk to someone! A teacher, a mentor, a colleague, or a family member – they might just have the tips to help you achieve your goals.

What goal will you be setting yourself?

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STEM Fast Track shows high school students the possibilities of STEM careers through industry-focused mentoring programs, to help them develop the confidence and resilience needed to thrive in their career and in life. We seek to cultivate young minds that will one day pioneer the technological advancements of tomorrow, giving humanity and our planet the best possible future.

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