With a new year comes new opportunity—and not a minute too soon! Maybe 2022 was a breath of fresh air compared to the dumpster fire of 2020. Or maybe 2022 just felt like the fire from the dumpster caught the whole prairie on fire. Either way, the good news is, you get a fresh start in 2023. And a huge part of that starts with setting goals for the new year.
We know you’re probably thinking: Goal planning? Ha! My goals went out the window way back in 2020. I’ve just been trying to survive these last two years, and now you want me to think about goals? Yeah, right.
Whoa there, let’s back that negative train up. Look, we get it. We really do. No one is saying these last two years have been a walk in the park. In fact, a lot of people are still really anxious about what’s going on with their finances. But having goals in life is a must—especially when things look crazy.
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So, take some time to really think about what those yearly goals should be. And remember, just having good intentions alone changes nothing. Nada. Zilch. You can make resolutions all you want—but a resolution without a plan is just plain old wishful thinking. It’s time to rethink how to make goals.
5 Essential Guidelines for Your Goals
1. Be specific.
What do you want to achieve? Get down to the nitty-gritty. Just saying you want to lose weight won’t cut it. Instead try: “I’d like to drop 20 pounds and be able to do at least 20 sit-ups in a row without passing out.” Look out for any roadblocks that could keep you from reaching your goal, and make a plan to knock them out of the way.
Questions to ask yourself: Who does my goal involve? What am I trying to accomplish here? When and why do I want to make this goal happen?
2. Make goals measurable.
If you know your big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) is to pay off $24,000 of debt in the next year, that means you have to pay $2,000 a month to reach that goal (or about $460 a week). Break your New Year’s goal setting into bite-size chunks. Give yourself daily, weekly and monthly steps to take. Focus on those. And when you accomplish one, tackle the next one.
Questions to ask yourself: How long will it take to reach my goal? How do I know when I’ve reached my goal?
3. Give goals a time limit.
It’s important to set a time limit—because you need a finish line. Take that goal of yours, create a plan, and break it all the way down into daily activities. Then, give yourself a deadline. Hint: Planners like the new 2023 Ramsey Goal Planner are perfect for this. They’ll help you manage your schedule, grow as a person, and crush your goals—no matter what they are.
For example, you might say, “I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31, 2023.” To lose those 20 pounds by your deadline, figure out things like how many times you need to work out each week and how many calories you need to eat in a day. Now you’ve got an action plan to hit that goal by your target date.
Questions to ask yourself: Do I have a deadline for reaching my goal? When will I hit this goal? How many times will I achieve this goal?
4. Goals need to be yours.
Let’s be honest—trying to go after someone else’s goals for your life never works out. Sure, your mom might want you to take night classes and switch careers. But it won’t happen unless you want it to. Why? Because working hard to win isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s tough. And you won’t have the drive to stick with it if you’re working toward a goal you’re not even passionate about.
Just because your spouse wants you to get out of debt doesn’t mean you will. You have to want it too. The goals you set have to be your goals. When push comes to shove, you’re the one who has to fight to make them a reality. So, get in there and start swinging!
Questions to ask yourself: Is this my goal? Or is it someone else’s goal for me?
5. Put them in writing.
Something special happens when you write down specific goals. So get them down on paper, along with all the steps it’ll take for you to make them happen. Our Goal Tracker Worksheet is a handy tool for this. Seeing your goals in black and white will help you hold yourself accountable and track your progress along the way.
Questions to ask yourself: Do I know the steps to reach my goal? Have I laid out a blueprint for how to get there?
7 Areas of Life for Smart Goals
Need a good place to start for goal setting? We recommend you set goals for these seven meaningful areas of life:
- Spiritual Goals: Pick up a new devotional, start a daily journal, or plug in to a small group at your church.
- Fitness Goals: Hit the gym more often, take the stairs, and remember to eat your veggies.
- Educational Goals: Go back to finish your degree, get your MBA, or read a good book every month.
- Family Goals: Plan one-on-one dates with your kids, have a standing date night with your spouse, or make it a point to call your mom and dad on Sunday nights.
- Career Goals: Work toward a promotion or raise, learn something new about your line of work, discover what you’re passionate about, or send out resumés if you’re looking for a new career path.
- Social Goals: Look for new ways to connect with others, say yes when someone invites you out to lunch, or—for some of us—say no more often.
- Financial Goals: Start saving for retirement, get out of debt, or use a monthly zero-based budget.
When it comes to that last one on the list—your money goals—you might not even know where to start. That’s why we made a super simple assessment that will tell you exactly where you’re at and what your next steps should be. Take our free three-minute assessment and get started knocking out your money goals when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve (or start today—that’s an even better idea).
And hey, don’t get beat yourself up if you get off track. Life happens. We all know 2022 had its speed bumps and roadblocks—just like any year. And guess what? 2023 probably will too. That’s real life. Just remember to keep your chin up. As long as you stay focused on the end goal and keep taking small steps toward getting there, you’ll be on your way to big life-change.
Now go take 2023 by storm!