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Making and Keeping Goals Year-Round

by Melissa Eastlake on 01/18/08

This time of year, everybody’s talking about goals, plans and resolutions-I even set out a few of mine over at Queercents. Have you already given up on your New Year’s resolutions? Every blogger, pundit, and expert on the internet has different ideas about what your goals should be and how you should achieve them. From the best of the internet and my own experience, here are the top four goal hacks of 2008 – and any other time you want to make a new plan.

First and, I think, mostly importantly, make your goals yours. At last count, there were 4.7 billion urgent things I needed to do to improve my finances, health and life – know that feeling? Ignore the noise and pick the goals you’re most passionate about.

I have a significant load of student debt, and while all reason suggests I should be plowing as much energy (and money) as I can into paying it down, I just can’t get excited about that idea. I’d much rather just stay on top of my payments and make a broader, more moderate plan of savings goals-including saving for a single, reasonable prepayment on the debt.

Second, make your goals actual goals. Fun fact: there are 90 people on 43things who want to get Jesse McCartney’s phone number. There are also over 10,000 who want to save money, and, judging by the discussion, only a fraction of those have a plan to do so. Of course, “save money” isn’t really a goal. “Save $2,000 in an emergency fund this year” is almost a goal. “Put $85 from each paycheck into an emergency fund and don’t touch it unless I get fired” is a goal.

Third, make your goals public. This can range from starting a blog to telling your one closest confidant – but tell someone, so that they can encourage you and hold you accountable. Even better, work with a partner who has a similar goal.

Finally, make your goals fun-but not too fun. Set up a reward system for yourself that isn’t going to blow your progress. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t celebrate your successes with a banana split (or, maybe you would, and that would be the problem I’m talking about). You might budget a small reward fund to blow on something joyous and foolish after you meet all of your other financial goals in a given period of time, or just set aside an evening to do your favorite free activity. Hey, maybe you can get that buddy of yours to offer to take you out to dinner.

That – combined with a little discipline and the excitement you’ll feel about seeing your progress grow – can hold you to the course all year long.

Melissa Eastlake is a contributing writer at Queercents, a syndicate of personal finance writers serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Since its launch, Queercents has offered up daily tips and financial commentary to over 250,000 visitors.

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