Athletes, successful business people, and achievers set goals! Stop procrastinating or you will find yourself never achieving anything. Goals should be specific, measurable attainable, realistic and timely. SMART goals are a framework for setting goals! Any goal that you want to achieve requires consistent effort over time or it will remain just a dream or wish you will never achieve.
There are shocking statistics that say seventy-six (76%) percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. That means no emergency savings, savings or retirement savings. Why do Americans have such a low savings rate? Is it the low interest rates? After paying their expenses, there is just nothing left for savings! This really is not a good answer! If I were faced with this situation, I would change my expenses. My priority or goal is always savings.
Whether you are saving for retirement, a home, your children’s education or some other long term goal, you must work at it. Having enough money saved for retirement can affect you in two ways. You may not be able to retire or you will have to lower your standard of living in order to retire. Either choice is not very desirable! Retirement does not fit the stereotype of living on the beach in a luxurious fashin is everyone’s idea of retirement, but you need to start to save and invest to have a retirement of any kind.
Saving for retirement is not a get rich quick scheme! It takes time and some sacrifice. The IRS or federal government assists in you r saving by allowing you to defer your taxes until you start to withdraw your savings. There are additional choices which some may find more beneficial such as a Roth IRA which allows you to contribute after tax savings and grows tax free. When you retire, you can withdraw tax free. There are other investment accounts which receive a lower tax rate as capital gains.
If retirement is having sufficient funds to support your lifestyle without working, just working part time or some combination of working and leisure, you need to start saving and investing early. What is enough money to support you r particular lifestyle is a personal choice! Just making choices of what is important to you or establishing your goals. Estimating your needs thirty (30) or forty (40) years in the future is no easy task, but there are many retirement calculators to help you achieve it.
The odds are against you! If you do not start to contribute, you will never achieve a decent retirement. In most cases, people do not start early enough. Investing needs time to grow and take advantage of the various cycles. There will be bull or bear markets and everything depends on when you get started. If you start to contribute at the height of the market, you will need more years for the market to grow or average the seven (7%) percent average return. How are you doing with your retirement goals?
For the record, I do not have a bucket list, but I do have a lot of goals even at my advanced (68 years old this month) age! Goals without a plan are just a wish! I may never own a Porsche, but I can rent one for the weekend. I may never compete in the Tour de France, but I can ride a section for myself. I can enjoy first class travel, but I may not travel as much as I want. It is one of the reasons; I started traveling nearly thirty (30) years ago. As I get older, I realize I will not travel as much as I would like or want to travel when I am in my late eighties (80’s) or nineties (90’s).
I still have about twenty (20) years to accomplish these goals! Do you think about time frames for your goals or do you just watch time go by? If the latter, you will never achieve your goals or the things on your bucket list. As a lifelong planner, I realize the one aspect of planning is how long I will live. I plan to live thirty (30) years in retirement, but there is no guarantee. My doctor tells me I have test results of a thirty-five (35) year old at sixty-eight years old. Genetics contribute to longevity as much as one’s health.
Long life is a goal, I may or may not achieve. It is a contributing factor on my goals and I cannot do very much about it. What do I do? I live my life and achieve all the goals I want to achieve on a timely basis. It may be the reason, I do not believe in a bucket list. I want to and do enjoy life every day. I love what I do as a career, have great relationships with family and friends and look forward to every day. I have no regrets and enjoy my life. I may not accomplish everything, but I am satisfied with my results.
Why set limits?
One sure way to fail is limit yourself. I see my students quit too soon because of past failures. If you set goals that are unrealistic or unattainable, how can you achieve it? Start with the outcome and work backwards! If I want to be healthier, richer, or a better writer, I know I need to work at it. I start with the outcome or goal and break it down into daily/weekly/ monthly tasks or objectives to reach my goal. What do I need to do today to achieve my goal tomorrow, next year or ten (10) years from now?
Test your limits by attempting something you thought you could not do. I talk about this very subject with my students all the time! You only grow when you attempt new things. You know those scary new things that make you nervous or frightened enough that you just do not do them. I have students who run marathons who never ran before, but they start out just running a mile or two. Children especially teenagers are less intimidated with some things, but scared of others. Practice overcomes fear!
What is most surprising is the successful ones are often the average person who just tries and gets up and tries again when they fail. Perseverance, determination, discipline and resilience trumps intelligence! Desire to achieve will help you through these difficult times. “That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.” (Abraham Lincoln) It all starts with a goal and a plan. Don’t limit your choices in life; it is up to you to achieve your goals. Why set limits?
I purposely avoided providing a laundry list of what you cannot achieve. I wanted to cover this subject in the broadest possible way. Your approach to goals will either enhance accomplishments or keep you from achieving them. You need a positive approach and realize your only limitation is you! You cannot achieve what you have not established as a goal. Just making it a goal is not enough though, you need a plan and you have to hold yourself accountable! In order to achieve your dreams,set goals!
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