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Goal Setting: Keys to Staying the Course

content ballEvery New Year gives us the opportunity to turn over a new leaf, setting goals that will make this year better than last. Our minds are filled with optimism as we set our sights on improving our lives financially, spiritually and physically.

As we embark on setting these goals, it’s important to keep ourselves in check and design goals that are attainable. Creating goals to make our lives more meaningful, to help us get healthier and stay on track with our finances are great ways to kick start a new year, but if we take on too many things, we are less likely to achieve our goals than if we had stayed on a simpler path. Our motivation to achieve great things may inspire us to have a long list of challenges that we wish to meet, and as you evaluate the changes you want to make this year, remember to acknowledge what has worked for you in the past. If you’ve been steadily paying off a credit card or other debt, continue working toward that goal. The new year is a good time to evaluate if more can be applied toward the debt, but if not, then that’s OK, too. Keep that goal on the list “as is” and move on to the next one.

Being healthy is one goal many people set for themselves in the new year. Your salubrious lifestyle for 2015 may include a new diet, signing up for a gym membership, getting more exercise, quit smoking or even taking up a new hobby to relieve stress. These are all great goals. However, if we try to tackle them all at once, then we may find ourselves burned out within a few weeks and won’t accomplish any of them. It’s easy to give up in frustration especially, when we aren’t seeing results as quickly as we’d like. If you’re not making progress, then try sticking with just one or two goals rather than giving up on all of them. Add the other goals at a later time, possibly even saving them for next year’s resolutions.

Financially speaking, we can also get frustrated if we don’t see progress.  Whether our goals are aimed at saving more, giving more, spending less or reducing debt, we can grow impatient with the amount of time it’s taking to attain our goals. When we lose the laser focus that we had when we set our goals, it might help to go back to the drawing board and refresh our memory a bit. There are also many tools such as financial calculators to help us evaluate if we’re on track (check out the calculators on the Compass Catholic website). Spending a few minutes reflecting on the original motivation can help reinforce the goal we set or maybe help us to step back from it, too. Were we too aggressive when we initially defined the goal or have circumstances simply changed somewhat since then? Whatever the case may be, take some time to reevaluate why the results aren’t shaping up the way you thought they would and restructure the plan rather than giving up on it altogether.

As we embark on a new year, I encourage you to stay strong in your convictions for change by periodically checking back on the goals you have and tweaking as needed to stay on track.

“May my ways be steady in doing your will. Then I shall not be shamed, if my gaze is fixed on your commandments.” ~Psalm 119:5-6

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