Welcome to Week 6 – Developing a Realistic Schedule Towards Goal Achievement. This is part of our 52 Week Financial Freedom series, where we are teaching you the path towards Financial Freedom.

We’re towards the end of our first few week’s worth of lessons which are all about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals with a great plan towards achieving those goals. This week we’ll firm up our timeline for achieving our goals. Enjoy!

Week 6 – Develop a Realistic Schedule Towards Achievement

Once you have laid out your goals and your systems, you will now want to begin thinking through your realistic schedule towards the achievement of those goals.  This means that you will now need to take those S.M.A.R.T. goals that you set and lay out the timeline of how and when they will come to fruition.  

This requires a fine line between pushing ourselves towards achievement of a challenging goal while being realistic with the timeframe in doing so.  If we allow ourselves too much leeway, we may never achieve the goals for which we set out.  If we are too hard on ourselves and require seemingly instantaneous goal achievement, we may become disheartened because there is no way we can attain what we have set out to do.  

A key rule is this: ensure that your goals are challenging enough yet realistically achievable. 

This may seem easy enough to do yet in practice, I find that it can be very difficult, especially in my own life.  This is because I happen to be an overachiever and I want to either set out too many goals for myself at once or not allow myself enough time to adequately accomplish those goals.  

Therefore, I find it necessary to set up my goals and then go back through to figure out whether or not the goals I have set for myself are realistic in quantity and time frame.  If not, then I need to recalibrate (more on that later).  

Levels of Goal-Setting: Lifetime, Yearly, Monthly  

Here are the levels at which I break out my goals and their timeframes: 

  1. Lifetime Goals – Goals that I expect to achieve over the course of my lifetime.  
  2. Yearly Goals – Goals that I expect to achieve over a year timeframe. 
  3. Monthly Goals – Goals that I expect to achieve over a month timeframe. 

Life Goals

These are the goals that I will be achieving over my entire life span.  I currently have 15 goals and these are high-level, overarching metrics that I use to quantify success for me over the course of my life.  

Here are some current examples of Life Goals as it pertains to the financial realm: 

  1. $50,000 in yearly dividend income
  2. $1,000,000 in net worth
  3. Owning a Lake Cabin somewhere in my home state of Minnesota

Now these aren’t goals that are going to be easily achievable in one year’s time.  In fact, these goals will take many years of hard work and planning to accomplish.  But that’s the point – these are life goals – ones that I am actively working towards over the course of my life span.  

While it can be rather challenging to keep myself motivated and focused on points in the future, especially those that are large in scope, I am able to keep working towards these goals by planning out my yearly and monthly goals which are smaller, more manageable, and more achievable.  

Breaking out the BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) into smaller, more manageable goals is what I often refer to as “brick-by-brick” goal achievement (link Will Smith motivational video).  

Yearly Goals

In my yearly goals section, I simply take the lifetime, high-level goals and break them down into more manageable levels of achievement.  I ask myself – “how much closer to my goal can I get during this year?”  Then I plug that into my monthly goal template and, if applicable, divide that metric by twelve to see what I would need to accomplish per month in order to achieve that goal.  

<Show monthly goal template>

If it looks doable, I will put that as my yearly goal.  If it seems a bit too challenging, I will scale it back.  If it seems like I can do more, I may ratchet it up some.  Remember that we strive for challenging yet achievable goal setting.

Here are some examples of what my yearly goals might be from the examples above: 

  1. $10,000 in dividend income this year
  2. $400,000 net worth this year
  3. Build up $50,000 down payment for Lake Cabin and/or higher paying position for more qualification potential this year

By setting these yearly goals, then by further breaking them down into realistic, monthly achievable goals, I’m setting myself up for success as I’m continuing to see progress towards these goals on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis.  

This is where our daily systems come back into play.  In the previous week, you already began laying out the systems towards goal achievement.  In this week’s lesson, we’ll want to make sure that the systems we laid out mesh-up with the lifetime, yearly, and monthly goals we have set for ourselves.  

Realistically, the systems will be geared more towards the achievement of our monthly goals.  This is because our systems really become our daily goals – those things we seek to achieve on a daily basis which drive us towards the accomplishment of our overall goals – one day at a time.  

Remember: if you have a lifetime goal and you being breaking it down into a monthly goal and it definitely not achievable at the current rate that you are going, you have two options: 

  1. Resize the Goal – this means that the goal needs to become more realistic.  If I have a goal of making $1,000,000 this year, but are currently on pace for $100,000, then you need to really think through if that goal is achievable or not.  It’s perfectly fine to set challenging yet achievable goals for ourselves. In fact, if we can see continual progress towards our goals – which is why I advocate for daily systems that we achieve regularly – then we become much more motivated towards doing the thing.  It is when we set our sights on the unrealistic and unachievable that we begin to lose heart. 
  2. Resize Your Efforts – you may not always need to recalibrate your goal.  In fact, perhaps all that is needed is to recalibrate your efforts.  This means that if you have the goal of $1,000,000, but you’re on pace for $100,000, you will need to reapproach how you are working towards this goal.  Clearly you will need to develop more income to get there.  But how much more?  What will it take?  Can you do it?  Only you know the answers to these questions.  Get into a space where you can think through whether you can achieve the goal and if so, what needs to happen to make it possible.  

Oftentimes, we will go through this process of recalibration throughout our entire lives.  It’s natural and part of the process towards successful goal achievement.  Be sure to embrace the journey as much as the destination.   

WEEKLY FOCUS

In this week’s lesson, we’re going to make sure that we key in on finalizing our lifetime goals and our timeline towards goal achievement.  Remember, these can always change and should change as our interests change.  However, if we’ve done the hard work of really diving into what we want, then we should be fairly confident in what we’d like to see ourselves accomplishing in the next 5, 10, 20+ years down the road.  

Here are some actions to take to really solidify your goals: 

  1. Ensure that you have a good set of high-level goals that you can see yourself achieving.  Now is the time to firm up 1) that you really want to achieve these goals, 2) what you are willing to do to achieve them (systems), 3) your timeframe for doing so.  
  2. Now break those high-level goals down into realistic, challenging yet achievable yearly goals.  Really ask yourself these questions: 
    1. “How much time will it take me to achieve this goal?  Do I have 30, 40, 50 years left?  Or what timeframe will this goal take?”
    2. “What will I need to do on a yearly basis to accomplish this goal?”
  3. Once you have broken your lifetime goals down into yearly goals, develop a process to set regular monthly goals towards goal achievement.  I typically will have a reminder on my calendar at the end of each month to ensure that I review my goals and set new goal targets for each month.  This way I can adjust and recalibrate where needed to ensure that I’m making good progress towards my goal achievement.  

Once you have taken all these steps, you will be on the path towards really having your goals nailed down and ready to achieve.  Next week we’ll go over setting up a monitoring plan.  After that, we’re really going to get into the ‘nitty-gritty’ on what we can do towards making radical change and becoming Financially Free! 

Disclosure: I am/We are long $AAPL, $ADM, $BG, $BGS, $BP, $BUD, $CALM, $CAG, $CAT, $CLX, $CMI, $CSCO, $CTL, $DAL, $F, $FAST, $GE, $GT, $HBI, $IRM, $JNJ, $IBM, $INGR, $KHC, $KO, $KSS, $MMM, $MSFT, $NWL, $PFE, $PG, $SBUX, $SJM, $SPTN, $STX, $T, $TSN, $UPS, $WFC, $WPC, $WRK, $WY, $XOM

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