What's the best way to set goals that will help motivate you to achieve your personal financial wants and needs?
Most of us are not strongly motivated by money itself. Before you reject this statement out of hand, think of this: unless you are a coin or currency collector, the thrill of having five million dollars in a locked vault would vanish quickly if you couldn't spend it or use it in any way. In much the same way, a purely monetary goal may not be a very powerful motivator: most of us need to focus on tangible items or tangible benefits. (Despite this statement, some people are motivated by money, are moved to action by the numbers. If you are such a person, you can move right on to the discussion of making the goals measurable.)
For most of us, though, one of the first steps in goal setting is finding a concrete goal or goals that motivate us emotionally. How about that powder blue '59 Caddy convertible, the retirement on Maui, the ability to cut back the hours you work, or the satisfaction you would gain from setting up and funding your own charitable foundation? Spend a day or two making up a list of the things you've always wanted, and prioritizing them. You'll probably find that you have some short-term goals, and some long term goals.
Whatever it is, make sure these are your goals--not someone else's and not what you think you should want. If you're not honest with yourself about what you really want, when the going gets rough, you will find it harder to have the self-discipline to stick to the plan needed to attain the goal.
Once you have come up with the goals that will push you on to action, don't let the dream die.
If you haven't done so already, do enough research on your goal so that you know it "inside and out." Imagine at least once a day how it would be to have your goal, and how your life would be improved by having it. If the goal can be represented by a picture (such as the '59 Caddy), keep one or more pictures of it where you're bound to notice it.
Isn't this just daydreaming? If you go no further with our suggested goal setting process, these vivid imaginings will be little more than daydreams. They can waste your time, and worse still, provide an excuse not to do those distasteful, but necessary things that you must do to grow your business (such as, for instance, cold-calling prospective customers). To really derive the benefit from the exercise of envisioning your goals, you must move on to making your goals measurable.