A few weeks ago the challenge was to look at your annual spending by category so that you could get a general idea of where your money is going each month. If you look back at this report, you should be able to see where you spent most of your money. Next, you should take a look at your budget to see where you have planned for most of your money to go this month. You can look back at next month, if you think that this month might be skewed because of Christmas. Then ask yourself the following questions.
1. What Were My Biggest Goals for This Year?
This challenge is about lining up all of your goals, not just your financial ones, with your budget. At times, it may seem that two goals are directly conflicting with each other, so you may have to prioritize. On a piece of paper or in your phone make a list of the things you set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year. Financially you may have wanted to get out of debt or save a certain amount of money. You may have had other goals that you wanted to reach this year. Right down those goals, as well.
2. Did I Reach These Goals This Year? If Not, Why Didn’t I Reach The Goals?
After you have listed each of your goals, look back over the year and decide if you reached the goal or not. If you made progress toward reaching the goal, that is a good start. Some goals do take longer than a year to reach and if you are still making steady progress towards the goal, you should be pleased with your efforts. On the goals you did not reach, you need to be honest with yourself about why you did not reach the goal. And then ask yourself what behaviors you could have changed to be more successful in reaching the goals. For example, if you wanted to lose weight over the year, but you ended up putting on pounds, you need to label the behaviors or lack of behaviors that led to the weight gain instead of a loss. The same questions can be applied from everything to getting out of debt or writing a novel. Look at the things you had control over that prevented you from reaching the goal.
3. Did My Current Financial Situation Affect My Ability to Reach My Goal?
The next things you need to consider is how your current financial situation affected the outcome of your goals for last year. This is a great exercise, because you can really see how your finances can affect all areas of your life, and how your financial habits can really cost you from pursuing your dreams. You may not have had the time to work on your goals as much as you would have liked, because you had to spend extra time working this year. This is when you can look at your annual budget and determine how much you paid toward reaching your overall goals. If you look at your budget you may be able to find other areas you are willing to cut back on your spending to reach your goals. Reading "Your Money or Your Life" can also help you to see where you can make the changes in your life.
4. Do I Want to Keep Working Towards the Same Goals?
Another question you need to ask yourself is if you want to continue working towards the same goals. The end of the year is a great time to evaluate your current goals and to make any changes to your priorities now. You may want to shift your goals around for the next year, or you may keep the same ones. As you look at what you were successful with, both financially and otherwise, you can see how you need to change so that you can reach the goals that you did not before. You do not need to set any new goals this week, but rather just think about the goals you want to set.
5. Where Do I Want to Be This Time Next Year?
This last question will help you know where what goals should be your main focus through the year. You may want to purchase a house this year, or be ready to by the same time this year. You may have something you want to change in your career or your environment. Give yourself the chance to dream right now. You can modify the goal or dream to something realistic when you set the goals at the end of the year. It is important to keep aiming high.