“One may know how to conquer without being able to do it”
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War
You can’t boil the ocean – having goals without direction or too many goals for the resources available is a sure way to fail.
Understanding what you want is key. It is impossible to plot a course without understanding where you want to go. The goal may be – I want to increase my net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets or I want to lose 20 lbs.
Understanding your limits is also important – I want to increase my net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets in a legal and ethical way. Getting money faster may be easier with blurred lines, but understanding that your goal is to do it legally and ethically keeps you on the path. I want to lose weight safely and keep it off. Crash dieting for a month isn’t going to cut it.
Now that there are goals – lets look at what to do to make our goals into reality.
Goal One – increasing net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets
How? Do a Reality Check – where are you now versus where you want to be?
The Current situation – I am saving money at a rate of $250 per month, current balance $1,000
The Ideal situation – I have a savings account with $15,000
By comparing the current and ideal a specific target of $14,000 in additional savings is defined as the goal.
Next consider time – Do you want to increase your net worth by December 2018? Or December 2020?
Time to take a look at the factors impacting this decision.
Do a SWOT analysis – What are your Strengths and Weaknesses? What external Opportunities and Threats impact your goal?
- Strengths – Debt to Income ratio leaves extra money for savings
- Weaknesses – High car payment, tendency to buy new things when not needed
- Opportunity – Get higher paying job, get less expensive car and save the difference
- Threats – Unexpected expenses, Increases in taxes or utility rates, Economic downturn
Understanding what is going to help achieve the goal as well as what will potentially undermine success is information needed to formulate a strategic plan.
In order to save $14,000 by December 2018 would require a monthly contribution of $1,167 per month starting this month. Is that feasible?
In order to save $14,000 by December 2020 would require a monthly contribution of $400 per month. Is this feasible or could you do it sooner?
Maybe you can comfortably save $650 per month which would put you at the $14,000 mark in 21 ½ months.
Another goal is weight loss. Let’s say I want to lose 20 pounds.
Reality Check – Do I have 20 lbs to lose?
Current Situation -My Body Mass shows Index I am 15 – 20 lbs heavier than ideal for my height
Ideal Situation – I am the ideal weight for my height
The goal is set – lose 20 pounds without crash dieting
When? – I want to lose 20 pounds by the middle of April 2018
How? – Is this do-able by my preferred time? Time to do a SWOT analysis
- Strengths – I like walking in nature and occasional hikes, I like to swim and, I like bike riding
- Weaknesses – I love chocolate, sweets, and chicken nuggets
- Opportunities – onsite workout center
- Threats – Krispy Kremes and Sonic
So if I set out to walk, hike, swim and bike ride more and eat fewer sweets and chicken nuggets – is that a strategy? Not quite, I need to add in a measurement – April 30, 2018 is 3 ½ months away so I will need to lose a set amount of weight each week. Or none this month and 7, 6, and 7 respectively in February, March and April. In order to know if I am on track to succeed I need a tracking signal.
Two goals are illustrated above. Once the facts are known determine how aggressive your strategy will be, do you want the slow steady approach or a quicker result. You can do either as long as you have the resources to meet the milestones. A milestone is a set target – balance in savings or total lbs lost at the 1 month mark – are you on schedule at this rate to meet your goal?
The measurements will allow me to adjust the strategy if it isn’t working. It is better to adjust the strategy and meet the goal than it is to give up – so if you aren’t on track adjust and see your goal through to completion.
Take a look at your own goals and try to create a strategy to achieve them.
Thank you for reading