How to Set Financial Goals: 6 Steps to Achieving Success and Happiness


I used to have a love/hate relationship with goals.

I loved to set them and I hated to achieve them.

At least that’s what it seemed like for so long.

Setting goals is awesome and I think everyone likes to do it. However, how many people actually achieve their goals?

The problem with not achieving your goals is that it can make you feel like there is no point in setting your goals at all.

However, not achieving a goal shouldn’t deter you from setting more.

In this post, I want to talk to you about how I not only set my financial goals but also achieve them every single time.

How to Set Your Financial Goals and Achieve Success

As you’ll see, achieving your financial goals requires a bit of imagination. The reason why is because we often create goals from a place of emotion.

When you want to lose 20 lbs it isn’t usually when you are bored and watching TV. It’s when you look at yourself in the mirror and you want to be happier with what you see.

When you want to start making more money it usually isn’t when you are eating a sandwich. It’s when you’re stressed about paying rent for the 20th month in a row and you are tired of losing hair.

It’s important to try to bottle up the emotions you feel when you set a goal because these are things you will have to come back to time and time again.

When people give up on trying to lose weight it’s because they forget about the emotion they felt initially which caused them to set the goal in the first place.

And that brings us to the first step.

Step 1: Finding Your Why

Finding your Why is very important because it acts as your compass for everything that you do.

However, people can often get stuck in figuring out their Why.

Your Why is a statement that always emotionally pulls you in. For example, you might want to make $10,000 a month working on your own thing because you want the financial freedom that will allow you to enjoy life to its fullest.

Your Why is always tied to a better life in some way and you’ll find that you often have to come back to this vision over and over again.

Goals are hard to reach not because they are impossible, but because you get so many obstacles thrown in your way.

If you want to quit smoking because you want to see your kids graduate then you have a strong emotional vision that you can come back to.

If you want to quit smoking because the price of cigarettes went up $2 then you will quickly find yourself going back to them when a craving hits because you have no emotional tie to saving $2.

Your Why is the vision you have for yourself. You aren’t striving to reach that goal for your present self, but for your future self.

Step 2: Time for a Status Check

When I was younger it was literally impossible for me to save money due to the lifestyle that I was living.

I was going out 5 nights a week and spending money on whatever things I wanted. I was constantly eating out and not taking care of myself.

I kept on telling myself that I could save whenever I want without realizing that it would require a lifestyle change.

When you set a finanical goal it’s important to realize that it will probably require some type of change in your life. If it didn’t require a change you wouldn’t need to set the goal!

This means you need to do a status check on all things in your life.

It’s quite possible that you are in a toxic relationship that will make it impossible for you to achieve your financial goals no matter how hard you try.

If that’s the case then you need to correct that before setting off on your journey.

Take inventory of your life and see what roadblocks are already set up and make a plan on how to overcome them.

For me it meant cutting out “friends” in my life who didn’t understand the goals that I was achieving and how our current lifestyle was preventing me from achieving them.

Step 3: Set Your Goal

Finally it is time to set your goal. This is going to be the easiest step because you simply say “I want to achieve this…”

A good approach to setting a goal is to follow the S.M.A.R.T system. With this system goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

That means your goal can not be vague, you must be able to track its progress, it must be attainable (can’t set a goal to buy the Sun), realistic (see previous note), and timely (can’t be set to 150 years out).

If you follow this system it usually means you set narrow goals. However, that don’t let that hold you back from setting Big Ass Hairy Goals. Those are the best kinds but they are usually achieved by reaching a series of smaller goals which follow the S.M.A.R.T system.

An example of a bad goal would be to get out of debt.

An example of a good goal would be to pay off $40,000 of debt in the next 18 months.

Both have the same end result but one is specific.

Be specific with your goals so you understand what you are trying to achieve.

Step 4: Creating a Plan for Your Goal

Back to the not so easy stuff.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve set goals without having an actual plan.

When my wife wanted to lose 20 lbs she didn’t think she was going to will it to happen. Instead she read about the Ketogenic Diet and decided that was what she was going to follow.

It can be hard creating a plan for your goal because there are times you just don’t know how to make it happen.

Thankfully you have the Internet at your disposal. Once we stop going to school many of us forget how to research but trust me when I say that almost any goal you want to achieve has been achieved by someone else and they wrote about it.

If you want to save a million dollars then go to Google and search for how to save a million dollars.

If you want to start a blog that makes money and allows you to quit your job then you don’t have to search for that since I wrote a nice guide for you.

Don’t simply sit around thinking you have a goal and no idea how to create a plan. You might have to do some work to figure it out but there is always a way to make things happen.

Step 5: Take Action

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you can’t achieve your goals if you don’t take action.

I know it’s mind-blowing to hear that but it’s something you must understand. Too many people set goals and lay out the perfect plans but don’t take any action and therefore their plans are never reached.

When you have concrete goals set on your calendar then you have no choice but to make them happen.

You know your deadline and you have your plan laid out. The only thing left for you to do is execute.

It’s very important to have your goals visually accessible. This could be with a Post-It-Note on the wall or a constant reminder in Google Calendar.

If your goal isn’t constantly in your face reminding you that it needs to be met then that will make it much harder to achieve.

Step 6: Reflect

Once your goal deadline has passed it’s important to take time to reflect for a couple of reasons:

  • If you succeeded then you need to reward yourself. You did a great job achieving your goal and that deserves a reward.
  • If you didn’t succeed that’s okay but figure out what prevented you from achieving your goal and revise.

Now it’s time to set up the next goal. Hopefully you’ve learned some things from the previous trial that will help you improve the next time around.

Repeat this process over and over and over again.

Goals Are Important

I can’t emphasize how important goals are to achieving happiness. Goals offer you direction and give you something to constantly strive for. As humans we are always looking for ways to improve our lives and get better. Instead of doing this aimlessly it’s much better to do so with a goal in mind.

Sometimes you will reach them and other times you won’t but either way you should always be striving for improvement.