2017 is almost over and it makes me think: how can I make my 2018 an even better year? Before another year starts we would think about achieving our ideal weight, saving more money, traveling to a new destination, etc. The phrase “New Year, New Life” is a common expression. “I wish next year I can do this, can afford that,” and so much more.
Unfortunately, thinking and wishing alone do not motivate us enough. We can keep saying we would have a better year but do we really stick to the plan? More importantly, do we have a plan?
Year after year, I would have a long list but that’s all there was to it – just a list. Do I go over them by year-end to see how far I’ve come? Not really.
I realized that making a list of goals should include a concrete plan, a lot of motivation and continuous evaluation. To simplify, here are some ideas on how you can make your own:
- Goal for Health and Fitness. Do you want to be able to run 5K or 10K? Start by signing up for a race, or taking a running clinic, or maybe joining a group of runners, or running on your own. Gradually increase your speed and distance, and maybe later next year you would have achieved your target. Do you want to drop from size 10 to 8? Try reducing your rice intake (or switch to brown rice as it makes you feel fuller), salt and sugar. Take two days a week to drink only cleansing juice for dinner. Reduce or eliminate the stressors in your life and get enough sleep.
- Goal for Career. Next year you might want to add more responsibilities in your current role. Speak to your manager and ask how you can be exposed to new skills. You can also find a certification that would benefit you, and ask your HR for sponsorship. Maybe you can request to attend seminars and training too. Like my boss always says – it is all about process and reputation. Practice the process, be good at it, then be REALLY good at it, and you will get a good reputation from your superiors, colleagues and clients.
- Goal for Finances. If you have not started saving for your emergency fund, you need to start doing so in 2018. Create an Excel sheet with all the savings and investment ideas that you want to get into. Remember: do not get into anything that you don’t understand. You need to know where your hard-earned money goes to. Still planning to get a life insurance? You need to decide soon as it gets more expensive every year. Still have no idea about mutual funds or stocks? Attend seminars and join a group of people who can influence you to learn about different ways to invest. Make 2018 the year to kick-start your finances.
- Goal for Travel. I highly discourage using your credit card or worse, getting a loan, for your travels! It is a big no-no! As early as possible do some research about how much you will be spending on visa cost, tickets, hotel accommodation, meals, transportation, shopping, etc. so you have an estimated amount in mind to set aside each payday. Try to do extra work on the side (only if it’s legal in your country) to increase your cash flow, that way you would not have to get holiday money from your monthly salary. If you have payables, then DON’T travel. Pay whatever debt you have first before splurging. I always tell myself that I can always do it some other time as the country is not going anywhere anyway.
- Goal for Productivity. Time is something we can never get back and this coming year, make sure to use it wisely. At least once every month set aside some time to meet with friends. As I am abroad, I will make sure to spend at least 2 weeks with family back home, probably go to the beach and teach my 2 younger siblings to play Frisbee. On weekends I will write more, work out, or go to the beach. It is about time I stop slacking and sleeping all weekend like I did in 2017!
- Goal to Help Others. Every year find at least 1 way to help those who are in need. Some families don’t have enough money to buy food to eat. Some children walk to school barefoot as they don’t have slippers to wear. Approach schools or churches that may have a list of names who are classified as indigents, and ask around what they need. It does not have to be much. Find a way to share your blessings to those in need.
Now, time to make a list. Make is as simple as possible. Remember SMART: simple, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. When you have finally decided and committed to your goals, write or print your list on a piece of paper and tape it on your wall or anywhere visible (Not so neat nor artistic, eh? Haha! I have mine taped on my closet so I can take a glimpse while prepping every morning). It is very important that you be reminded of your goals.
How do you keep track of your financial goals? I prefer to use Excel so I can tweak it every now and then. Like when, for example, I make a commission and I have extra money to allot for my, for example, Emergency Fund. I would adjust the amount of money saved, or sometimes I use some of my extra for some shopping. Seeing the numbers go higher each month motivates me to save more.
I am sure you have other more effective ideas that might work better for you. Whatever your goals are, whatever plans you have in mind, I wish you succeed. I hope we all succeed.