finweek

How to achieve those lofty new goals

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Simon Brown, founder and director of JustOneLap.com.
Simon Brown, founder and director of JustOneLap.com.

We survived 2017. 

It may feel as if we just barely made it, but here we are in 2018. And that means that many of us will have made New Year’s resolutions. 

Usually these go along the lines of doing more exercise and drinking less, maybe combined with notions of trying to improve one’s spending and saving habits. 

But for most of us, by the time we’re reading this, our resolutions are already out the window. This is mostly because we’re doing them wrong.  

The problem with resolutions (or goals, as I prefer to call them) is that we make large, grand statements that are desirable. But they are so large that they scare us and we crumble. 

For example, we decide we need to get fit. Then we announce that we’ll go to the gym three times a week and run twice a week. 

It’s like trying to eat an elephant in one sitting – it’s just not going to happen. Instead, we should eat the elephant slowly meal by meal, accepting that it’ll take time. 

We dream about our great ideas for our goals, but starting seems impossible as the endeavour is too big and scary. 

Deep down, we don’t believe we’ll achieve our goals. Fearing failure, we do nothing and another year passes with us sitting on the couch.  

Instead, we should have a series of small and simple bite-sized goals that we can easily measure and achieve and that will get us to the ultimate goal. 

So rather than the mad fitness idea above, a better goal would be to start small with a brisk 30 minute walk right now. This is simple and as a bonus, in half an hour’s time you’re already succeeding, having achieved your first goal for the year. 

We don’t stop there; we target twice more in the week and start building our ability one step at a time. This is easy and soon enough we’re actually getting fitter – doing it small step by small step.  

Also important is to schedule the time into our calendar. Not a recurring schedule as that’s too easy to ignore. 

Rather, once a week look at the week ahead and find a gap when you can work on your goal – enter it into your calendar and remember to set reminders. 
 
You are far more likely to achieve bite-sized, achievable goals set for specific times rather than huge intimidating ones.  

Most of us can admit there’s something in our financial lives that could be done smarter. Maybe something as simple as adding a little extra every month to our savings or actually doing a budget so we can track spending. 

It could be building an emergency fund or finally digging into the true costs of our investments with a view to getting better performance at lower fees.  

I have a few goals for my money in 2018, with one being an old one I strive towards every year: a perfect trade. Every time I finish a trade, my goal is to do another perfect trade. 

One by one perfect trades will make a trader profitable. What’s important here is that I am trying to do one perfect trade at a time.

What a perfect trade looks like is up to you and I will write on this in the weeks ahead. A new goal for my investing this year is something I’ve always done but want to make a weekly part of my investing.

Every week I’ll schedule an hour and pick some company I don’t know and dig into it – I’ll check its financials, website and news articles with the aim of getting a basic understanding of that business.

I would not be looking to buy the company, but this process does two things. First, if I spend more time researching, I’ll be a better researcher, but it also provides a better, broader understanding of the market and I may even find the occasional winner.   

So, find some areas you want to improve upon, break them into bite-sized chunks, schedule the time and start reaching your goals in 2018.

This article originally appeared in the 18 January edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here.

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