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Charting Your Financial Course for 2020 Thumbnail

Charting Your Financial Course for 2020

I remember running the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia, trying to shed four pounds before crew weigh-ins. The problem was, the weigh-in was in two hours. After endless running with trash bags lining the inside of five sweaters, I somehow made it. That was the only victory our boat had that day.

I didn’t plan well for an outcome that I wanted. Sure, I spent hours rowing in ice-cold rivers, building stamina and perfecting technique, but I ignored other aspects that rounded out our training regimen. The weight seemed easy to lose months in advance, which is a nice way of saying I did nothing ahead of time. It became an issue at the most inopportune moment and ended up costing our boat dearly.

In this blog post, we will talk about ways of making 2020 the year in which you hit all of your personal, professional, and financial goals. This way, you won’t end up a year from now with a heart full of good intentions and a handful of unfulfilled goals.

Define Your Vision and Goals

Here are some questions to consider when defining your vision and goals:

  • Who do you want to be in 2020?
  • What do you want to accomplish in 2020?
  • What are you willing to commit to in order to achieve your goals?
  • What are the risks if you don’t?

You have this fantastic opportunity, today, to change your mindset and circumstances for the next full year of your life.

  • Would you like to learn a new hobby or skill?
  • Would you like to spend more time with your family?
  • Do you want to know where all of your money goes?

Virtually anything is possible. All you need to do is prioritize what is important to you and commit to a strategy that emphasizes your top goal above other conflicting, deflating, and distracting goals.

Have you had the same goal — lose ten pounds, save more, spend less — for the past five years? If you haven’t been able to lose the weight (I hear you, trust me) or save as much as you would like, is it truly a top goal of yours? And if it is, what do you need to do differently this year to achieve that?

This aspirational exercise is universal. You can apply it to your personal, professional, and financial life.

You get to define the you that you want to create.

Strategize Your Vision and Implement Your Goals

You now have an idealized version of yourself, complete with high-level goals for 2020. Now, we have to figure out how to get there.

The first step is to recognize that your goal — wanting to spend less frivolously and save more, for instance — is not quite complete. We need to put a tangible target on your goal, which will allow us to design the steps necessary to get us there.

 With a quantitative end goal defined — lose ten pounds, save 20% of your pretax salary — you can fashion a plan to get you there. Perhaps eating out three times a week with friends puts a damper on both goals. So maybe scale that back to one dinner out and two daytime activities (preferably one not involving buttery food or expensive tickets).

Now speak with your friends about your 2020 goal. Publicly sharing goals is a powerful motivator, and they will be sympathetic to your newfound dedication to improving yourself.

Forcing Mechanisms and Feedback Loops

In the best-selling book Atomic Habits, author James Clear explains that habits are the key to personal development. The strategies he defines are powerful tools, and you can implement them to guide you through the ups and downs as you work on your 2020 goals.

For instance, saving 20% of your pretax salary may seem impossible, but if you define your spending plan for the year, categorizing expenses as core and discretionary, you now have levers to pull to achieve that number.

An easy forcing mechanism is to then make sure you are automatically contributing all that you can to pretax accounts (and getting your employer match, where available), then socking away the rest into another account that you don’t touch for everyday expenses. This automation is a habit with basically zero work involved — how much better could that get?

Also, be sure to evaluate how these habits or forcing mechanisms are working for you periodically. If you find you are dreading a certain activity, think of scaling back the way in which you implemented that forcing mechanism to balance your mindset and mental wellness with your goals.

Where Do You Want to Go from Here?

Right now, we are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about 2020. It’s full of potential for self-improvement. But that wide ocean of opportunity can quickly wash you away without you carefully charting your course for the year.

Take this time to plan your personal, professional, and financial goals for 2020. To help with your financial planning goals, please feel free to give Harbor Crest Wealth Advisors’ goal planning tools a try. And you can try them without having to run any Rocky Steps, promise.