Standing as we are, about to enter a new year, we consider the trials, successes and goals of our past year. Somehow, looking at the future has a way of drawing up the past. The past is the story that propels us into tomorrow. It can be a tale of contrast and change for some of epic battles won against personal financial giants and the story of a brighter future. For some, it’s a challenge to outdo the successes of the past year. Looking into the past can give you strength. Endless possibilities seem to open and bloom before the very eyes of the beholder and, expectations are born.
Whether this year sees you hoping to reshape your financial past into a beautiful future, or finds you hoping to set sail for new horizons, let the rush of reckoning and anticipation carry you to new heights. Many of us dream of resolving debt and letting our financial worries melt behind us as future melts into past. For others, it’s the hope of saving or investing for years to come. Whatever the cause, it’s time to take your finances into your own hands and make the future a reality.
Letting Dreams Become Reality
All-too familiar with the frequency of failure, financial goals have become a butt of some jokes. Some assume failure before even launching. That sits at the heart of a cause for most failed goals. You are the person who will be working to make these turn the corner from desire to reality; you are the most important person in your own fan section. No one else is going to do the work for you. Let go of negative premonitions, which are likely to be largely based on fear. Allow room for positive goal-setting and believe in yourself.
The first step is getting out of your own negative cycle that led you here and getting a look at yourself from a different perspective. You can’t hate yourself or the place you’re in, and instead you should view it as a starting point in your own personal, epic journey. You must view this as your personal story in which you are the victorious protagonist. According to Susan Heathfield, “Poor goal setting makes people cynical, wastes their time and fosters confusion about where to concentrate actions and energy.”
Set good goals. If you want what is good, you are going to have to convince yourself that these good things belong in your life, or you will find a way, conscious or not, to make sure that doesn’t happen. No, that doesn’t mean a sense of entitlement, but a sense of self-worth.
Being Reasonable with Yourself
Debt is one of the worst self-feeding cycles of financial destruction. The further you sink into debt, the less money is available for spending and what you have doesn’t seem to hold a candle to the newly arising list of needs and wants. Truly, any time you are setting yourself a goal for financial changes, it doesn’t really involve granting yourself more freedoms, but putting in place restrictions.
Rather than setting goals based on self-imposed and often times too-strict rules, spend some time assessing your past spending. Acknowledge it and take averages of what you’ve spent in the past on each area of your budget. Doing this first will enable you to set a budget for lower spending in each area, but you’ll be more aware of how much you’re reducing your spending. Introducing past spending into the equation also gives you a dose of reality for the making of future goals.
Address the skeletons in the closet. They’re there, and don’t become less real by being ignored. Face them down. Don’t let them haunt your future. Find a way to leave them in the past.
Whether you’re saving for retirement, getting out of debt, or planning on making new investments, this road to change will be paved with challenges. Make sure you set up an emergency savings plan in addition to whatever other plan you implement. According to many financial advisors, a good emergency fund can enable successful budgeting. Those emergencies and unexpected expenses are no longer a shock to your financial system. I suggest saving up to six months’ worth of living expenses to shelter you from financial calamity. That may seem overwhelming, but the way to get there is one month at a time. Decide how much you want to set aside for emergency budgeting and don’t go back on that commitment. The first time you face an unexpected expense and pay for it with money set aside, you will find yourself believing in the possibility of change. Don’t sell yourself short of success. Don’t plan for things with naivety, either.
After the next 365 days have passed, you will be sitting atop the success of this past year looking to improve. Each time you succeed, you will find it easier to get rid of that voice that tells you it’s not possible.