I hop around personal finance blogs reading about the average Joes planning for retirement, excited about how much money they’ve got stashed away and scheming up new ways to fund their financial life 20-30 years from now.
I sit there wondering how they can seem so excited to reach a goal that is still decades away, and I realize, I suck at long term goals.
Why Long Term Goals are So Hard
I’ve admitted it, I really suck at long term goals. They don’t get me excited, like, at all. But I do amazingly well with short term goals.
If I have a goal that I know I can reach in two years or less then I’m all in and normally, I’ll work so hard that I’ll achieve that goal well ahead of time.
With these realizations I sat down this week to redo my financial goals and came up with a new game plan that would keep me on target for what I know needs to be done. If you’re no good with long term goals but great with shorter goals then this will help you too.
Set a Bunch of Short Term Goals
If you’re like me aiming for a million dollars in your retirement account over the course of the next 20-30 years does nothing for you. Instead you need that constant goal motivation which is what setting a bunch of short term goals will do.
Example 1: I want to have 1 million dollars in my retirement account at the end of 25 years. (Boring.)
Better Goal: I want to add an extra $20,000 in my retirement account by the end of 2016. (Motivating and exciting.)
The first goal in the example just isn’t exciting. A million dollars isn’t something that I’m going to hit anytime soon and therefore does not motivate me in anyway. But adding $20,000 to my retirement account in the next 18 months? It’s a stretch but it’s definitely doable.
It’s challenging yet attainable and something that will keep me motivated.
How to Break Down Those Long Term Goals: Step by Step
Breaking down big goals into smaller chunks is an age old trick and it works wonders. Here’s how to do it step by step.
Set Your Long Term Goals – Your long term goals are anything more than five years out. This could include saving for retirement, paying off your mortgage, and saving for your children’s education.
Put a Date on the Goals – After you have pinpointed your long terms goals put a due date on them.
Break Down the Goals Into Yearly and Monthly Amounts – Now that you have your goals set up you need to break them down into yearly and monthly amounts.
Focus on the Short Term Goals – After creating they yearly and monthly amounts stay focused on those. Make it a challenge and see if you can reach them ahead of schedule.
Here’s an example of breaking down the long term goal of paying down a mortgage.
- Pay off Mortgage: $133,000
- Deadline: 10 Years
- Yearly Target Amount: An Extra $8,400
- Monthly Target Amount: An Extra $700
With this goal you know that you can have your mortgage paid off in ten years if you can scrape up an extra $700 a month or $8,400 a year. And if you reach that extra $8,400 before the year ends you’ll be even better off and save even more in interest.
Breaking Down Goals Works
Breaking big goals into smaller, more achievable goals really works. While you want your goals to be a challenge they become daunting and un-motivating when they’re too far out of reach.
If you’re horrible at sticking with long term goals be sure to break them down into more attainable pieces and focus on your monthly and yearly progress instead.
Do you have any tips for sticking with long term goals?