I measure my progress daily, weekly, monthly and annually. I set goals and monitor them periodically. I learned these skills very early and applied them in everything I want to accomplish. If you want to achieve financial or other goals, you need to monitor your progress. How you measure your progress is important for success ! Here is the secret to my success!
So much is written about goals and goal setting. The really important part of goal setting is monitoring your progress. You can use SMART goals to develop your goals and still fail! You can fail because you did not monitor your progress. Think of a time you wanted to lose weight and you never stepped on a scale. The scale is one method to monitor your progress. It is a way to measure your progress daily. You can still lose weight without using a scale, but you miss the opportunity to keep you motivated.
The best way of losing weight is over a long period of time because you are more likely to change your habits and maintain those changes. A good goal for losing weight is just a pound or two a week. You probably will not see your loss of weight in the mirror or realize you lost inches for weeks. People who are trying to lose weight need daily affirmations that they are succeeding or they will give up. There are many goals particularly long term goals that need monitoring more often to measure your progress.
Long range goals such as paying down debt, saving for your first home or retirement are just a few examples of goals that must be monitored to check your progress. For example, you start contributing to a 401k enough to meet your goal forty (40) years from now. Investment returns are not guaranteed! You need to monitor your progress and make changes if necessary annually. You need to make sure your asset allocation meets your goals, risk tolerance and age.
Keep it simple
Everyone has short, intermediate and long term goals. To keep it simple I create daily tasks for every goal so I can measure my progress. I can monitor m y tasks daily and weekly to make sure my progress is on target to achieve my goals. Monitoring is only the beginning because you need to take the appropriate action when or if you fall short. For example, one of my goals is to read a (350 pages) book a week. On that basis, I need to read fifty (50) pages a day.
If I fall behind, I need to spend additional time to catch up. If I do not monitor my progress, I will not achieve my goal. The consequence of not reaching my goal is small, but discouraging. Monitoring your progress is a great way to keep you motivated to reach your goal. This is especially true when it comes to long range goals. If you come up short in your retirement savings, you may not be able to retire. The consequence is simple, you keep working! Is that what you want to do?
My five (5) steps to help you achieve your goals
- Weight loss method – Goals must be measurable just like losing weight. You step on the scale every day to measure your progress. You need to check your daily tasks daily to check your progress. If you fall short, you can increase your activity or change your diet for the next day. In other words, take action or adjust your efforts. This works for weight loss, saving for retirement or debt reduction. You can record your progress and post it to keep you accountable.
- Checklist method – I am a big fan of lists and other reminders that keep me on target to reach my goal. A checklist is a great way to keep you motivated and it is a visual reminder of how you are doing. I teach my students to set goals and check off each day on a calendar demonstrating you achieved your daily task or goal. If for some reason, you missed a day, it is obvious and you can see you need to do something about it. You can post your calendar so everyone can see it to keep you accountable.
- Rewards and consequences – I am willing to use anything to help me reach my goals. If I am having difficulty with a particular task, I may attach a reward to give me a little extra motivation. For example, I may be behind in my reading (1 book a week). I might put aside some special time and have a cappuccino or some other treat to make the task more appealing. Another choice is to spend extra time on the goal and reward with a little free time. It is whatever will motivate you.
- Group support – There are a number of organizations such as Weight Watchers and others that use group support to help you achieve your goals. It is the support of other people that can help you achieve goals you otherwise would not. It is also a good way to hold yourself accountable to your goal. It can be something as simple as you and a friend have similar goals and you use each other to support your efforts. I would probably make a game of it and turn it into a competition.
- Analysis and review –When it comes to financial goals, particularly long range goals, you should spend more time analyzing your progress. Saving for retirement is one of those goals because it generally is over a forty (40) year period. Just reviewing you asset allocation annually may not be enough. Just looking at your return on investment may not be enough. You need to create your net worth and measure against it annually. Your goals will change over time during a forty (40) year period and you need to adjust for it. Small or big changes occur such as our recent recession, divorce, disability, early retirement to just name a few. Analysis, review and planning will help you overcome obstacle in order to reach our goals.
These are just my five (5) steps to achieve your goals. There are more and you need to find the appropriate one that works for you. That is really the key when it comes to achieving goals. Whatever works for you! Monitoring your progress will keep you motivated, focused, goal-oriented, disciplined, and proactive. You will be more successful and motivated to achieve much more. Do you think success will change you? Start today and monitor your progress and find out!
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