Are you struggling to reach your financial goals?
Most often when we think about reaching our financial goals we think of the daily or monthly processes or techniques that help us get there.
- How to budget money.
- How to save money.
- How to spend less money.
- How to make more money.
- How to win the lottery? (not really, but we have all had this thought at one time or another)
There is no scarcity of opinions on how to successfully tackle these processes and no shortage of Internet articles telling you why one way is better than the other (Including FTP). One of the reasons there are so many different options and recommendations is because we are all different in how we approach our money
Of course, successful money management does require that you have some process or method for budgeting, saving and managing your money. That’s what makes articles and blog posts on the subject of personal finance so popular.
However, one area of focus on money management that does not get a lot of attention in understanding the behavioral aspects of money. Behavioral from the perspective that our emotions, habits, and motivations have an impact on how successful we are, or will be in managing our personal finances.
Think of it like this.
If your goal was to build a house you would need some tools to build the house with. A hammer, nails, saw and a host of other tools that would help you get the job done. But just because you have the right tools doesn’t mean you will reach your goal of building a house.
Even if we have the tools, building a house will require motivation to complete all the different tasks. It will require changes to our daily schedule – we will have to make time to complete the tasks required to build a house. We will need to stay open to learning new ways of doing things, especially if it’s our first time building a house.
Motivation, accepting change, and learning is all part of the process to successfully reaching our objective of building a house.
Successful money management is no different. Methods for budgeting, saving, eliminating debt are the tools we use to accomplish reaching our personal finance goals.
What is actually harder to achieve is our ability to stay motivated, accept change and to learn and think differently about how to reach those objectives. These are all behavioral modifications that if we want to succeed we need to be able to change.
So How Do You Make Behavioral Changes to Reach Your Financial Goals?
In Susan David’s book Emotional Agility she discusses the many facets of change and how to make behavioral changes to help you get unstuck or move forward in work and life. She dedicated a complete chapter on a concept called The Tiny Tweaks Principle. She identifies that often to create positive change – to influence our motivations, habits and our mindset (behaviors), change can take place in small increments (tweaks) or steps.
(I won’t say anymore and spoil the rest of the book, this is a great read and one of the books I recommend as a means for personal growth and development)
As this concept relates to money, regardless of whether you’re struggling with debt or just trying to further your goals of becoming more financially independent, your behaviors can have a dramatic impact on whether or not you reach your goals.
One method I have used for many years to create positive, yet small incremental changes to my personal finances and career is to create what I call a Five-Year Plan.
A Five-Year Plan is a set of goals you want to achieve in five years. The idea is that if you establish an idea of what you want your future to look like and review that plan on a weekly or monthly basis, your behaviors and actions start to change to meet your goals.
- Saving Cash, Paying Off Debt, and Staying Motivated – When Pigs Fly
- 11 Reasons to Save Money and Pay Off Debt
- Do You Have Self-Limiting Beliefs About Money?
The process takes place in small incremental (tweaks) steps.
A simple Five-Year Plan for achieving financial success might look something like this.
In five years I want my financial picture to look like this:
- $5,000 in my savings account.
- No credit card debt.
- I start saving more for retirement.
In addition, you may want to include other aspects of your life that are positively impacted by you reaching your financial goals.
- I live in a new home
- I have a new career or job.
Once you write these goals down put them someplace you can review them on a regular basis, your nightstand, your refrigerator, your checkbook.
As you review your Five-Year Plan on a regular basis one of the things you will find is these goals will start to influence your behaviors on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Your decisions on how to spend, budget, save or invest will start to change in small incremental ways – in some cases, you won’t even realize it. The plan you have established provides a marker or horizon of where you’re trying to get and it keeps you focused and motivated in reaching those goals.
Over time as you move closer to reaching the objectives of your Five-Year Plan you can add or remove individual accomplishments and create a new set of goals to keep you focused and on track.
Financial independence rarely happens overnight. If you have been trying different processes and methods to create your own financial security and are still struggling to make changes – try creating a Five-Year Plan. A Five-Year Plan will help you change some of the underlying behaviors that may be keeping you from reaching your goals.
- FTP Workbook – Provides a simple template for creating a Five-Year Plan, free to download.
- Emotional Agility, by Susan David available at Amazon
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck, by Mark Manson, a counter intuitive approach to life. New York Times Bestseller
Do you use goal setting as a means of changing your behaviors? Comment below.