The year is wrapping up, and we’re all hustling to finish our holiday shopping and prepare for the perfect Christmas season. Then, just a few days later, we’ll be intent on improving ourselves and making ambitious goals for the next year.
I love taking the time to plan what I want to accomplish in the new year. I spend a few weeks planning and writing down each goal. I share my goals on my blog, and every month I update them with my progress, which helps keep me accountable. With this process, I’ve been able to reach at least 75% of my goals every year.
If you, too, are a goal setter, you may focus only on the future, but that can be a mistake.
For instance, my husband and I are in the midst of paying down a mountain of debt (the balance was $57,966.01 spread across credit cards and student loans when we started paying it down at the end of 2011). Every month money is tight, and honestly, sometimes I wonder if we’ll every be in a comfortable position financially.
My husband keeps reassuring me that we are in a better position financially this year, but I always assume that is what he says because he’s a free spirit and I’m the financial worry wart. However, I took the time to look back, and I realized that he’s right. We are in a much better place than a year ago.
At the beginning of January, 2013, my student loan balance was $4,218.94. This month, I just paid it off. That’s only one example. In each area of our lives that I looked at financially speaking, we’re in a better place. While I don’t necessarily feel the financial difference, the numbers on the paper don’t lie; we’ve made progress this year.
When you’re in the midst of a financial struggle, whether it be paying down debt, trying to build your savings, or trying to increase your income, feeling like you’re not making any progress is normal. Getting ahead occurs so slowly that you often feel like your stagnating when you’re not. Inch by inch, you’re making progress, but when you’re deep in the forest, it’s hard to see anything besides your immediate location.
You need to consciously look at where you were 12 months ago so you can appreciate where you are now.
But most of us never take the time to do so. That’s too bad because by reflecting on the progress you’ve made, you can build your confidence and make accomplishing your goals in the future even more likely.
Plus, by looking back at what you’ve accomplished and the progress you’ve made, you can better set your goals for the next year.
A car has a rear view mirror because you have to see where you’ve been and what’s behind you to help you continue going forward. The same is true with your financial life.
Have you taken the time to look at the financial progress you make every year?