I work with clients from all different locations, backgrounds, and with different financial stories. During my time working with clients I have noticed a lack of three (3) key elements in their financial journey. No matter where you are in your financial journey it’s crucial to sharpen your skills by reading and following these steps to achieve financial success.
Every person that I work with is smart and capable. Many have and will continue to make more income than I did during my career in banking.
They know they need to spend less than they earn, pay down debt, saving money, and invest for the future.
The thing that many clients, friends, and acquaintances struggle with is trying to do every single item at once. Here’s too often what I see:
Don’t get me wrong those savings helpers are not bad as they help and encourage people to save and invest. The issue I run into time and time again is individuals are clear goals, an action plan to reach those goals, and an intense focus to achieve financial success.
Paying down debt, saving money, and investing for retirement are all good things. What’s missing is what have been the key factors to achieve financial success so far in my financial journey.
There is so many great quotes associated with goals. Here are just a few that caught my eye.
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” Fitzhugh Dodson
“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” Earl Nightingale
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Yogi Berra
“Goals are like magnets. They’ll attract the things that make them come true.” Tony Robbins
However you didn’t come here to read quotes about goals from famous people. You came here for the steps to achieve financial success!
With financial related success it’s extremely important to create goals. Let’s not kid ourselves creating specific goals is important.
You know SMART goals those things in school you thought you would never use so decided to doodle in your notebook instead.
I remember being in school and hearing about a SMART goal. I probably rolled my eyes and said something like “Of course we have to be smart about our goals”.
Years later I find that having SMART goals can have a major impact. So what is a SMART goal?
The “SMART” acronym stands for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.”
In this example unfortunately you have high interest credit card debt. Good news is you have income to rid yourself of this awful debt.
The goal is to pay off $3,000(Specific) in five (5) months (Measurable, Time-Bound) while gainfully employed (Attainable) on your financial journey (Relevant).
Rather than saying I want to pay off my debt. This is not a SMART goal. It’s a lazy statement.
That difference right there is the difference between success and floating along wishing your debt was paid off and you had money saved.
We created a goal. That’s the first step in achieving financial success.
I encourage you to write this down. Writing things down makes your goal real. Then when you are ready, share with someone you can trust.
Goals are great. Now the next step is to create a plan. It’s not enough to create a goal, we need a plan behind it.
Without a plan you are simply hoping things will turn out. Let’s not hope, let’s plan instead shall we.
Using the previous goal of paying off $3000 in five (5) months is great. Now how do we get there?
First it’s key to get the large lump sum out of your head. Change your mindset.
$3,000 is a lot of money. What instead if we looked at it a different way.
Now $3000 isn’t so big. Before you were looking at $3,000 like it was Shaq and now it’s closer to the size of Kevin Hart.
In another mindset shift it’s easier to look at these smaller amounts in terms of tangible things.
Another mindset shift could be to go above and beyond reducing expenses and instead earn more to achieve your goal.
The best of these mindsets is to work on both sides of the equation in reducing your expenses and increasing your income.
Once you have that action plan to reach your goals it’s about following through. It’s really all about focus.
I’m going with a Bruce Lee quote to start our look into focus.
I find there are a couple key components to focus. Intensity and accountability.
When a goal is created and an action plan to support, focus is going to naturally become the most important piece.
For example a goal created to pay off debt and an action plan to cut out your next vacation should not lead you to spend more money on clothing and shoes with the extra money.
Instead an intense focus on your goal and in this case debt repayment is the number one (1) focus.
Intense focus isn’t meant to last for years, it’s intended for short periods of time.
Focus on your goal. It won’t be easy, but as time passes and your goals and plans become habits and lifestyle changes your goals are much easier. It certainly takes time and persistence, but an intense focus can be relaxed to maintaining your focus over time.
Some individuals are DIY in every sense of the word. Give them a task and they will set a goal, create a plan, and focus on the task until they have achieved their goal.
Now the rest of regular humans over here, myself included, need someone to assist in their journey.
Meet your accountability partner or as a friend coined your Accountability Beast.
Reaching your goals especially as it relates to fitness and financials is not an easy task. Going to the gym or paying down debt is not easy. We would all be millionaires with six (6) pack abs is this were the case.
However sharing with your friend that you just made a big debt payment or lost a couple of unwanted pounds makes the journey more rewarding.
The same goes for when they hold you accountable and ask if you have made your big debt repayment this month or skipped the gym yesterday.
Accountability partners come in all shapes and sizes.
For example during my financial journey I shared many of my experiences with “strangers” on the internet and my supporting wife.
My financial journey has taken a different direction and less accountability is needed. I have created good financial habits, but the occasional accountability and assistance from a CPA, trusted advisor, coach, or friend is still part of my financial journey.
However when I was going through the last two (2) years of my fitness journey I found simply recording videos, taking pictures, and seeing progress was often all of the accountability I needed.
I paid money for a couple fitness challenges along the way, Chicago park district boxing class (Thanks Coach Marlon!), and eventually a local CrossFit gym membership with coaching, community, and fitness challenges along the way.
All different shapes and sizes of accountability.
My need for accountability has changed over time and it’s important to realize when you are struggling or need someone to give you an extra push of motivation to reach your goals.
The keys achieve financial success on any financial journey are to establish goals, create an action plan to reach them, and focus.
If you are looking for an accountability beast then look no further and check out my financial coaching page to see if I can help on your financial journey.
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