It’s hard to stay focused on our financial goals when we’re worried about money. But that’s actually the time when goal-setting matters the most.
Neuroscientists have learned that when we set a goal, we set off a chemical process in our brains that create strategies to achieve them: the ‘smarter’ your goals, the smarter the solutions.
When it comes to setting goals, make sure they pass the smart test.
S-specific: I will save 5 hundred dollars in an emergency fund by next December! Specific goals help you make better spending and savings choices.
M-measurable: if you want to save 5 hundred dollars by December, you know you must save 50 dollars a month beginning in march and be at the $250 mark by July. Achieving that measurable mid-year success motivates your brain and builds confidence to keep going.
A-attainable: researchers from New York University found that when our brains perceive our goals to be unattainable, our blood pressure and drive actually go down. So make sure your goal is realistic enough to actually reap the reward of setting one. Is $500 a reach or is it do-able?
Relatable: you should be able to clearly share your goals with a friend or loved one. This accountability greatly improves your chance of success.
T-timely: if you’re helping your child pay for college this year, it may not be the time to buy a new house, or even save an extra 5 hundred dollars. Timely goals eliminate financial stress.
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Accountability = Success
Gail Matthews from Dominican University in California Matthews recruited a variety of entrepreneurs, attorneys, educators, artists, managers, and other professionals from different parts of the world and broke them into five groups:
- Group 1 was asked to think about their goals
- Group 2 not only had to think about their goals, but they also typed them into a survey
- Group 3 did all of the above and also wrote an action plan for each goal
- Group 4 did all of the above and had to share their commitments with a friend
- Group 5 did the same things but also had to send a friend a weekly progress report
The study looked at outcomes over a 1 month period. When it was complete, Group 1 accomplished 43% of their stated goals. Group 4 accomplished 64%, Group 5, the most successful accomplished 76%.
“This study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of 3 coaching tools: Accountability, commitment, and writing down one’s goals,” said Matthews.
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As Matthews and other researchers have proven, there’s a connection that’s made between the brain and the progress of where we’re going when things are written and we see it.
This is not a dress rehearsal. This is your real life. Take a few extra steps and make your financial goals a reality.