How to make smarter goals (and get what you want!)

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WHATEVER THE DESTINATION, A GOOD PLAN CANGET YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE

A simple ‘what if?’ can lead to big change when you break it down into bite-sized bits. All you need to get started is a list of things you’d like to achieve or need to get sorted. Feel free to brainstorm as many ideas as you can – the more specific, the better:

  • What would you use extra money for, if you had it?
  • When would you need to  have saved the cash by?
  • How much do you really need? Don’t forget the little costs!
  • How will you feel when you reach your goal?

Keep refining your ideas – add details and dates – to tailor them to your circumstances and keep them achievable. Are there any that get you really excited, or that you feel particularly passionate about? Having a compelling or pressing goal can help you stay motivated!

Life goals

It’s tempting to concentrate on short-term must-haves but, as with most things, balance is the key to contentment. Try and find a couple of goals for each category to work on:

  • Short-term: Something you can achieve in a few weeks or months, such as cash to spend on a hobby or home repairs.
  • Medium-term: Something heftier that might take a year or two to realise – maybe that course you’ve got your eye on, a special event, or building up an emergency fund.
  • Long-term: Something that could take five years or more, such as saving enough to retire early, becoming debt-free, or anything else life-changing!

A short-term goal for one person might be a long-term aspiration for someone else. Just be honest about what’s realistic for you.

The Plan

Your plan needs to show what steps you’ll take to achieve your ambition.

  • When do you want to reach your goal?
  • How much do you need to save each month to get there?
  • Where will you find the money?

There are lots of ways you can work towards short-term goals, such as spending less and putting the savings into your nest egg instead. That could include cooking at home instead of eating out, choosing cheaper brands at the supermarket, or cycling or walking instead of catching the bus (or paying for petrol!).

Longer-term ambitions take a bit more thought as you’ll also need to allocate regular or larger amounts towards them, just as you would for other essential costs. Take a look at the budget planner on the next page, or turn to page 22, to see where you could find the funds.

Why milestones matter

Splitting a goal into weekly or monthly targets can make things seem much more attainable. Saving a tenner a week may not seem much, but after two years it adds up to more than £1,000 – just find a figure that works for you. If you use a savings account, you could earn extra through interest, too.

Milestones are also a great way to track your progress. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievements as you nail each one!

It’s not always money that stands in the way of achieving dreams – but it’s often the biggest obstacle to making a start. Formulating a clear and compelling goal, and then breaking it down into smaller targets, can help you get there. Give it a go!