It’s not enough to set a goal or make a resolution for the new year.

The goal you set must be SMART.

It is important that your goal is meaningful to you.

Perhaps most importantly, you have to feel truly motivated to improve your “Return on Life” in the New Year.

Let’s get started on your goals in 2023 by following these four steps.

1. Review the past year

Take a moment to consider 2022 as a whole before you leave it behind. Was there anything that went well? What were your accomplishments? Did you fall short in any particular area? Did you have any memorable experiences? In what ways were you able to overcome challenges? Who were the people who made the year special? How did you pivot to take advantage of opportunities? Are there any mistakes you wish you could turn back the clock on?

2. What should you improve on

Now it’s time to look forward. Your 2022 to-do list may have some unchecked items that you want to complete in 2023. It’s possible that you’ve experienced a significant life or professional transition or even the loss of someone near to you in the past year that has changed the way you view long-term goals. Maybe you want to prioritize a change in your career, health, or relationships.

Whenever you think of potential goals, remember that you’re more likely to achieve them if they have a personal meaning for you. It is not a good idea to pick a goal just because your friends and family are doing it, or because you believe sharing your progress on social media will bring you more likes.

When you have a few possibilities, ask yourself “Why?” to filter out any goals that you can’t connect to a personal motivation. You probably won’t stick with that new exercise class if you sign up just so you can spend more time with your friends. However, that class may be an important building block if you are hoping to improve your health to run a half-marathon or be more active with your grandkids.

3. Prioritize SMART goals

Why do you always fall short on your “save more money this year” resolution? Because it’s not SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

A related SMART goal could be, “I want to increase my Roth IRA contributions this year,” or “I want to save X for a down payment on a new house.”

In order to achieve your overall goal, you need to break down that specific goal into smaller benchmarks throughout the year. These short-term goals can be compared to key performance indicators (KPIs) that companies use to track, measure, and manage their progress towards annual targets. When you are at work, you might be concerned about the cost of acquiring new customers or the profit margin on a new product or service. If you want to improve your personal fitness, you may want to run three times a week or reduce your calorie intake.

4. Don’t forget to write it down and keep track of it

By keeping a scoreboard on your fridge or writing in a specialized journal or putting sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, you can create both motivation and accountability towards your goals. As you add more checkmarks to your chain of success, you will be motivated to keep going. Blank spots will be nagging at you to fill them up. Your family or friends will be sure to give you that extra boost when you’re feeling frustrated or down on energy if you share your scoreboard with them.

Don’t forget that we’re always here to help you reach your financial goals. Want to try out our $Lifeline tool and have a conversation? Click here to reach out to schedule a time and start planning for a successful year.

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