Change Your Plan, Not Your Goal

I passed a sign yesterday that was a great reminder that there are many ways to obtain our goals.

It read:

If your plan isn’t working, then change your plan, not your goal.

The key is to not give up on your goals because your current plan isn’t working. Look for (and enact) a new plan to reach your dreams.

You might have a goal of getting fit this year, yet you cannot motivate yourself to the gym everyday. Maybe you need a gym buddy. Or instead of lifting weights, find another way to exercise (rock climbing, yoga, or P90X).

A life goal may be to work remote (so you can travel the world with ultimate flexibility). If your current plan of working for someone else isn’t bringing you closer to your dream, then maybe you need to work for yourself (or vice-versa).

Don’t change your goals because your first try didn’t work. Reaching your dreams is tough, don’t settle for something else. Find another path.

You Have to Participate in Your Finances, Not Ignore Them

No one cares about your finances – your money, your financial future – like you do.

So why are you ignoring them?

You have to actively participate in your money relationship to find success. Ignoring your responsibilities – budgeting, debt, investments, insurance – only hurts you, no one else.

Don’t sit back and expect your problems to be solved, take action!

If you find that you’re frustrated with your situation, or you cannot focus when you start reviewing your budget, you’re not alone. Many people have terrible relationships with their money. This doesn’t mean you should be like everyone else and ignore it.

Instead of going at it alone, and getting nowhere, seek help.

Find someone that you trust and share your situation and frustrations. Maybe you just need an accountability partner to check in with you periodically.

You may need a little support to get started – to determine what your first, second, and third steps are. Most of us were never taught about cash flow and money management, so we’re overwhelmed. In this case, you may need a little guidance from a financial coach or financial planner.

Whatever situation you’re in (whatever excuse you’re using) to ignore your finances, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You hurt your future every day that you put off finding your money relationship.

Remember, you’re not alone in ignoring your money…but why would you want to be average.

Upend average and be exceptional.

It’s Okay to Have Fun Goals

When we think of goals, we usually think of personal development, advancing our careers, or finally getting healthy.

These are amazing goals, and needed to keep yourself from leading a static life, but…

We need to add in some fun goals.

Interests, hobbies, “I’ve always wanted to try” things. In other words, fun!

Are you interested in the arts?

Have you always wanted to try intramural sports?

Want to learn to play a musical instrument?

Having fun goals (in addition to our serious life mission) allow us to re-energize throughout the year. They challenge us in a different way from our jobs. And they provide some needed relief from the every day drag.

Make a list of everything you’ve always wanted to do or try. If you have a significant other, have them make a list too. See if there is any overlap for shared activities.

Give yourself a goal of trying one or two of the hobbies/interests a month.

Hopefully you’ll find this fun and you may even find a hidden interest that brings you so much joy that you do it regularly, long into the future.

Combine work and joy, have an enjoyable year and find time for fun goals.

You Still Have Time for 2017 Goals

The year is a quarter over!

But that doesn’t mean you have give up on your 2017 goals.

You still have time to finish those partial resolutions.

Or, for those of you who forgot about your big plans for 2017…you still have time to start!

Don’t give up on 2017 yet, start doing.

Action will make 2017 your best year yet.

Recessions Happen. Be Prepared, Not Lazy.

Recessions happen.

No matter what we want or how hard we wish to ignore the facts, recessions will continue.

Times may be good right now, but don’t get lazy.

Instead of being a victim of the next recession, be prepared.

Think ahead and consider steps can you take to be better positioned for a recession. Here are a few:

  1. Be using a value-based budget.
  2. Have an emergency fund.
  3. Pay off high-interest debt.
  4. Develop new skills (or update old ones).
Value-Based Budget

A value-based budget isn’t your traditional tracking of income and expenses, it’s a budget based on your priorities – those things that provide joy (aka value) to you.

This takes more than picking a budgeting tool like Mint.com or YNAB and linking all of your accounts.

It’s time to refocus on what’s most important.

Value-based budgeting requires you to reflect on what your highest goals are and to determine your priorities in life. Most likely, somewhere in your everyday living, these have been lost and not reflected in your spending.

Your budget is then created around your priorities, from the ground up. You determine what you want to spend your money on and whether it ultimately helps you reach your overarching life dream.

Emergency Fund

An emergency fund isn’t just a good idea, it’s a requirement. A sudden medical expense or an unexpected repair can derail your financial dreams. Don’t let yourself be set back just because you’re not willing to save a little money.

What is an emergency fund? It’s a separate savings account, where you keep 3-6 months of living expenses. An emergency fund allows you to ride through the unexpected costs of life, without financial stress.

Emergency funds should only be used for emergencies. Covering your food or rent bill for the month is not an emergency, this should be in your value-based budget. Paying for a surprise surgery or leaking roof is an emergency.

How do you determine if you need 3 or 6 months of expenses in your emergency fund? Your job security, whether you work for yourself, or if you have family to feed all impact how much you should save. The riskier your situation (work for yourself and have a family) the more you should have in your emergency fund.

High-Interest Debt

Paying off high-interest debt while the times are good is vital to your financial survival when a recession hits.

Interest on debt (especially credit cards) is suffocating. You are still paying on past purchases, which may, or may not, be still bringing you joy.

Debt can be a reminder and a chain to poor past financial choices. By removing this monthly payment, you not only free up money to focus on your priorities and life goals, you’re also breaking the emotional linkage to past purchases.

Focus on being as debt free as possible while you’re living large, this will allow you to focus more money on your current dreams.

Paying down your debt allows you more flexibility if times get tough. You may find yourself relying on the credit card again and it would be great to start from scratch, not with a current balance which lowers the available funds.

Personal Development

Personal development should be on your list whether you’re doing great or already in a recession.

Gain new skills and refresh old skills. These are great investments for your money and your future at any point. There’s no better way to grow in your career.

Think ahead and prepare yourself for change. This will allow you to weather financial storms with less stress and more opportunities.

Actively work on a personal development goal. Do you need to join seminars and attend training? Will technical books suffice? Figure out what you need and allocate time and resources for success.

Technology is constantly changing and finding it’s way into all industries. Even a basic curiosity and experimenting with new software and applications will give you a leg-up on others.

Seek knowledge. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a recession, laid off from your job, with outdated skills.

Be Prepared

Work toward your life dreams with a value-based budget. Prepare for the unexpected with a fully funded emergency fund. Be debt-free with a cushion, if things get really bad. And stay up-to-date with new skills to grow your career, regardless of the economy.

Recessions happen, but we don’t have to be a victim to them.