Mighty Money Minute


Goals: the clearer, the better

Goals: the clearer, the better

We are hurtling into the future at an astonishing rate of one second per second, and we can't get there any faster...except in our minds. Mentally, we can time travel like nobody's business! As stuck as we are in the present, we have a fantastic ability to set and work toward goals that will benefit us at some later time. For every touchdown pass, every infectiously catchy pop song, and every profitable business venture, someone in the past did a little mental time travel, setting goals to acquire skills and achieve cool things.

In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, we urge you to set your own worthwhile goals, and we're here to help. Important note: We'll also be checking back in with you later to see how it's going, so you'll even have our help with follow-through!

Step one, though, is to set your goal or goals. It's worth thinking things through so you can (a) get specific and (b) set a timeframe. "I'd like to get more education" is a wish. Here's a goal: "Two years from now, I will graduate with a bachelor's degree in history."

Getting specific is the way to go. Here are some sample goals grouped in time-based categories:

Timeframe Sample goals
Short-term goal (less than one year) Complete financial aid/scholarship applications; make a spending plan for your financial aid funds
Mid-range goal (1 - 7 years) Graduate with degree; finish paying off car loan
Long-term goal (7 years or longer) Save for a house down payment; pay off student loans; become fluent in another language

For a lot of people, writing down a goal statement is a good way to shape and specify an idea that might currently exist as a vague or fuzzy mental image. Bring it into focus, the clearer, the better! Why? Because having a future reward in mind may make it easier to be disciplined now, and to take concrete steps to achieve your goal.

Since one of your mid-range goals is a college degree — and that is an excellent goal — consider how a short-term goal might help you get there. For example, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online beginning in January, and completing and submitting that application is crucial for achieving your education goals. Chances are, you've completed one of these before, and you know your way around. Just in case, though, there's a lot of helpful information about the FAFSA here, and your financial aid office can also tell you more about it.

As we said, submitting the FAFSA is a great short-term goal, but you may want to make additional goals as well. Do some mental time travel! Write down your goals! Be specific! Set some timeframes! Wow, check out all these exclamation points!

Okay, we got carried away, but the power of goal setting to help you shape your future is pretty exciting. In the July edition of Mighty Money Minute, we'll ask you how you did (or how you're doing) in advancing the goals you set now. It's all part of a process, and you're headed to future greatness. Whoosh!

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