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Time to evaluate progress in 2014

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"HAPPY New Year" may sound a little funny with no snow on the ground, but a lot of people consider September the start of a new year, or at least a new season.

After what was hopefully a slower pace through the summer, allowing time for reflection and contemplation, September is a great time to review your goals for the year and modify wherever indicated.

As well, with four months left to year end, this is the home stretch, and the time to make sure you and your behaviour are aimed at your personal bull's eye.

Over the next few weeks, we will be helping you in various areas, including overall wealth creation strategies, tips for young people in areas of financial literacy, spending control and debt elimination, structures for business owners or those who aspire to be a business owner, year-end tax planning and even the proven secrets to achieving happiness. Stay tuned.

Today's focus is on how you can make the most of the remainder of your year.

Did you set specific, measurable goals at the beginning of 2014? If so, you have also hopefully been tracking your progress toward those goals on a regular basis, and you have a pretty good idea of how you are progressing.

Now is the time to evaluate that progress, and decide what changes or adjustments are needed, if any.

For example, if you were going to pay off a certain amount of debt in 2014, are you now 67 per cent of the way to that goal? If not, you may need to increase your payments.

Maybe you are ahead of your target to this point, and can either divert resources to other goals or reward yourself for your great performance with some indulgence.

You might also be one of the many people who started the year without specific written goals for 2014. Great -- now is your chance.

Think about what you most want to accomplish this year. Now, can you also think about how those things will lead toward achieving your longer-term goals?

What steps can you take today to move you toward those 2014 objectives?

Hopefully, the excitement of thinking about achieving such goals is a big motivator for you, and enough to encourage you to get specific about one or two of those goals, and put in place a daily action plan to move you significantly forward by year end.

On the other hand, we have all had that nasty feeling of time and opportunity lost. If that's the feeling you have now about certain things rather than excitement, then use that unpleasant feeling to motivate you to make things different by Dec. 31, in any big or small way you can.

If you have read my book, Managing the Bull, or been a longtime reader of this column, you know I am a fan of "SMART" goals -- specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

Harvard University research showed simply writing down SMART goals vastly multiplied the level of achievement of their grads. As American philanthropist Elbert Hubbard once said, "Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability, or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal."

Wise words.

You have four months to year end to make a big difference in your life. Whether it is to save enough to maximize next year's RRSP or TFSA, to pay off debts, or just purge a closet or basement storage space, write that goal down now, develop a plan to achieve it with a deadline date, and get going. You will feel a lot better every day, and you will be moving forward toward your long-term dreams.

 

-- -- --

Speaking of goals and dreams, we have virtually sold out the current printing of Managing the Bull, so plans are underway for the updated version, a new print run and the possible achievement of Canadian best-seller status.

What do YOU think should be added to the next version? Please let me know. Any ideas used will reward you with a free copy of the new edition.

 

David Christianson, BA, CFP, RFP, TEP, CIM is a financial planner and adviser with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a vice-president with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2014 B9

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Updated on Friday, September 5, 2014 at 7:46 AM CDT: Adds missing text

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