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Small Victories & Thoughts on Goals

January 17th, 2013 at 12:37 pm

**I saw a press release this week that our property taxes would go down. Some bonds were refinanced to lower interest rates (terms not extended). NOW we are talking. It's nice to get people in office who know what they are doing, and who look at reasonable ways to cut expenses. (Especially after the fiscal mess our school district has made. Stuff like this is the complete polar opposite of stupid/horrible fiscal decisions of years past).

There is hope...

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What I have learned this week is that I am a horrible goal setter. LOL.

But I wanted to share in case the typical goal setting model just did not work for you.

I was thinking about talking about this anyway, in response to wino's post. But then Dave Ramsey was going on and on about the same thing, so I took this as a sign to write it down. !!

Goals:

--They have to be specific and measurable, and attainable. SO agreed!

--They need a time limit. They do?

--If you DON'T write them down they will never happen. Huh??

I was flashing back to when my last employer made us set these arbitrary "5 goals per year" and I hated those stupid things with a passion. IT was such a pointless exercise. & I Was thankful to be moving and quitting before I ever had to achieve those goals. Wink So thinking about it today, it's all coming back to me, but I Am realizing fully why I hated the exercise.

I am a VERY goal oriented person, so I figured I would share my goal methods for anyone who has found all of the above to be useless.

#1 - Unless there is a specific reason or advantage to having a time limit, I do not set time limits on my goals. I think there are few goals in my life that I have set a time limit on. In general, if I put my mind to do something, I do it. (This is probably also why I have never written down a goal, aside for my SA blog).

Just as an example, our home buying goal was:

"Buy a home when we have 20% and when it makes sense."

NOT:

"Buy a home in 5 years."

I think because my personality is so in the middle with the grey areas. I don't like "black and white" stuff. Doesn't account for all of life's little variables. How the heck am I supposed to know when in the long-term future when it makes the most sense to buy a house? I do know I won't even bother looking at *any* houses until I have 20% down. THEN we move on to the next step.

One thing I have ALWAYS been a stickler for in my goal setting, is small, manageable pieces. Successes are layered one on top of each other. I think this is why I like to set annual goals. I don't particularly set more long-term goals (that are very rigid and have a time limit) UNLESS I have a compelling reason to. I totally understand goals with time limits because they have to have time limits to work or make sense. But, other than that, I work better with the smaller pieces - one at a time. One year at a time. & is probably how I tend to break down bigger goals, anyway.

Some things I will likely never do: Resolve to lose weight, be the best mom and wife ever, to be high-achieveing at work, and to save half my income. All at once. HA!! I will probably also never move, get married, start a new job, and have a child, in the same year. All of the above would make my head explode. {But doing them one at a time - and layering successes and good habits on top of each other? - that works!}

One final note. I think the other reason I am not a big fan of overly long goals and time limits, is that I am very intuitive. The result is that dh and I have often made some seemingly rash decisions, based on our intuition. We are always moving in a certain direction, but the specifics always come to us at the last minute. & we go with it, because it has always served us well to just go with it. I think because we are so deliberate that people often assume we are just control freaks who plan everything into eternity. The truth is we have really often flown by the seat of our pants. But, that's not quite the same when you thought ahead and made up several back up plans.

I kind of feel this way about college. I really have no idea what college will look like for our kids, and wouldn't waste the ernergy trying to figure it all out, 8 years before my eldest is college age. BUT, I have thought about it enough, know what our options are, always talking to people with kids currently in their college for their take, etc. I think I have a plan A, B, C, D, and E on the financial side. So yeah - this is the perfect example. We are *prepared* though any and all of the specifics are about as clear as mud to us in this stage of the game. I always cringe when someone with a 1-year-old tells me how they got college figured out for their child. Down to every last detail. Where they will go to school, who pays for what, what kind of job their kids can get 20 years in the future and if it will work with their school schedule. "Yeah, good luck with that." Wink I think this is how most parents think. It drives me *crazy.* I understand why people feel so strongly about it, but I think the strong feelings over-rule common sense and logic. I think logic will be our edge. I don't have any strong feeling either way about the world ending because my kid goes to a private school versus public, if they live at home or live on campus, if they have lots of skin in the game or none. IF they work or they don't. Depends depends depends. None of these decisions are inherently bad. Depends on the individual and the circumstances. So, it's really hard for us to set concrete goals for something like college.

All this to say, you have to set goals in ways that it works for you.

5 Responses to “Small Victories & Thoughts on Goals”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    Love this. I'm almost completely opposite; flying by the seat of my pants didn't work. I guess I don't have natural frugality or preparedness in my make-up. I got in a lot of financial hot water and decided that the only way for me going forward was to make everything as concrete and measurable as possible. But I love hearing about your way; it sounds so great!

    I'm considering starting a real-life financial discussion group, and one of the things I plan to ask people is if they just naturally tend to live within their means and have money left over at the end of each pay period. If so, I don't think my kind of budgeting method is at all necessary; would probably just complicate things with no big benefit.

    If we were like you and your spouse, I wouldn't feel the need to have an exacting budget. But we're not there yet, and I'm not sure if we ever will be.

  2. North Georgia Gal Says:

    This is the first year I have created goals with a time frame. I am not sure how that will work for me but I am giving it my best shot.

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    @Ceejay - and I think that is all fine and dandy - it seems to really work for you. I wonder if you have more of a planner type personality but just didn't have the tools or didn't think to apply that to your finances? Because you seem to find it motivating and useful. (I don't get the sense that you can't stand it.)

    For me, I think it's just somewhat genetic and somewhat lifelong habits. My parents taught me good financial habits since I was a small child. There are definitely some strong "saver genes" in both our families.

    I don't know if I have ever "flown by the seat of my pants" when it comes to finances. But maybe the foundation is there that we could jump on opportunities or make split second big decisions, at times. We don't always belabor every big financial decision. Whereas parenting is an area where I often feel "flying by the seat of our pants" works best. Maybe college is savings is where the two (rigid finances and loose parenting) collide.

  4. PNW Mom Says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head....it's ridiculous to think everyone should do something the "same" way...what works for one person/family, might not work for another. Keep doing what you are doing....it is obviously working Smile

  5. Caoineag Says:

    I am always willing to set goals but will change them as needed. We spend a lot of time altering our plans based on a constantly changing environment so rigid goals wouldn't work with us. Most of my big goals are vague and without time limits and I set little goals along the way for motivation only. I always try to do what is in the best interest of the household (financial or otherwise) even if that means my little goals have to be waylaid.

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