“Goal setting” is a common theme at this time of year and whilst it’s easy enough to set goals, unless you go through the process properly, achieving them can be difficult.

So, here’s my 2 cents worth….

Top 5 tips for effective goal setting

1. Set a limit
A great way to not achieve your goals is to set too many.  Be realistic, pick a couple of goals and ensure you focus only on them.  Starting out with too many goals means you can’t prioritise any, resulting in your focus being split too many ways and therefore not achieving anything.

2.  Details, details…
It’s all in the detail.  Let’s pick a common financial goal – “I want to reduce my debt”.  Great, but the more effective way to set this goal is to detail the type of debt and how you’re going to do it.  For example:

 “I want to reduce my credit card debt, so I am going to review and reduce my expenses and use the money saved to pay down this debt. “

Detailing how you are going to get there mentally commits you to achieving the outcome.

3.  Give yourself deadlines
Set deadlines to keep your plan on track.  Taking the example above, the first step in your plan is to review your expenses.  Set a deadline to spend an hour reviewing your expenses. Then look at the next step and put a date to it.

4.  Develop good habits
Small actions each day that create good habits can benefit you in the long run.  This way your goals, and the plans to achieve them, are less overwhelming and become part of your everyday thinking.  For example, if entertainment is an area of your outflow that you need to reduce, practice calculating the true cost of the night out every time you make plans or are invited somewhere.  By doing so, you are forcing yourself to make the decision…do I spend this money and ignore my goal or put the money towards reducing my debt?

5.  Constantly check in
Re-visit your plan regularly and, if need be, adjust deadlines.  Plans don’t have to be set in stone.  Things happen that cause delays or changes in pace.  Re-work your plan where necessary to stay on track.