Now is the time of year for resolving, goal-setting, and dreaming big.  Many people have already set up some goals, as I have, and I applaud that.

If you haven’t set any goals yet for this year and want to, I’d encourage you to take a look at what some of the best goal-setters I know have to say about it.

Many resolutions and goals people make center around money – debt, savings, spending, and handling money.  So what’s the best way to actually achieve these goals and make progress on them?

Here are some of the best ways I know to make progress on the goals you set for this year!  Some of the points can apply to other types of goals as well, but I’ll specifically discuss their application for financial goals.

Write them down.  No, seriously, write them down.  And don’t write them down and put them in a drawer, hidden away somewhere.  Keep them somewhere you’ll see them at least monthly, if not more.  Keep them wherever you keep your budget, so each month when you make your budget you’ll see them and they’ll help you shape your priorities.

Discuss them with your spouse.  It’s always a winning proposal to discuss your hopes and dreams with your spouse, including where you’d like to see your finances go.  This is obviously more difficult if your spouse isn’t on board, but it’s still best to try to understand from each other what you want to achieve.

Keep it realistic – in your planning and execution.  Your goals have to be realistic, or you’re going to fail miserably, hate goals and goal setting, hate me, and not make progress for another year.  I wouldn’t encourage someone that’s never trained before to do an Ironman triathlon in their first few months of working out.  I also wouldn’t encourage you to plan to pay off $30,000 in debt on a $45,000 income in one year.

We must be realistic in our execution as well.  Don’t try to feed a family of four on $200/month so you can pay down debt.  You’ll all be hungry and angry, and you’ll give up.  Be realistic in the execution as well.

Use hard numbers.  Even if you don’t achieve the exact numbers you want, having hard targets to shoot at will get you better results most of the time.  Get rid of these:

– Pay down debt
– Save more money
– Spend less money
– Pay more attention to my finances
– Save for retirement

And use these instead:

– Pay off $15,000 in debt
– Save $5,000 for ________ (fill in the blank – emergencies, a car, etc.)
– Only spend $5/month at Starbucks
– Do a budget every month, before the month begins.  Reconcile my checking account at the end of each month.
– Meet with a financial advisor to open a Roth IRA.  Max out my annual contribution.

Share them with someone for encouragement and accountability.  Someone trying to exercise can gain accountability and encouragement by joining a running group or talking to a physically fit person she knows.  Likewise, you can get encouragement and accountability by opening up to someone.  A great place to do that is a Financial Peace University class, where group discussion times allow for the mutual sharing of ideas, struggles, and victories.  Another great way to gain that accountability is with a financial coach, who can help you refine your goals and challenge you along the way to achieve them.

Let’s make some things happen this year, people!

What are some things you want to achieve this year?  What are some other tips to help people achieve their goals?