“Dream your own dreams, achieve your own goals. Your journey is your own and unique.” – Roy T. Bennett
First off, Happy New Year! I am very much looking forward to a prosperous 2018. I hope that everyone had a terrific holiday season. In the new year I do wish everyone health, wealth and happiness. Although goal settings can be done anytime of year, I thought this post would be fitting as many of us see the new year as a fresh start.
I recently read an article that contained a list of financial goals to reach before the age of 30. This list contained goals such as not living paycheck to paycheck, paying off your student loans and investing additional money outside of your 401k. These are all fantastic goals and they are certainly ones on my list. However, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was the last part of the premise of the article, “before 30”. Shouldn’t the timeline of my goals be determined by, well…me? Everyone’s situation is unique. We all come from different backgrounds and have different priorities in life.
When we compare ourselves to others, there are always going to be areas that we fall short. We may make less money than a co-worker, we may have a smaller house than our friends or we may have an older car than our neighbor. But do these things truly matter? I have been guilty of this myself in the past. I looked at others and then compared to see how my life or situation measures up.
There are some months where money can be tight, I have student loans that seem like they are never going to go away and outside of my 401k, I do not have other investments right now. If I were to compare myself to these “before 30” articles, it would mean that I am a complete and utter failure. On the bright side, I have goals that are on my own terms and I am making great progress on them. I do not compare myself to others and I certainly do not create timelines for my goals based on with others may think. My journey is indeed my own and it is unique to me. I am living my own life.
When it comes to personal finance and development, the only person we should ever compare ourselves to is our past self. I strive today to be a better person than I was yesterday. How? By embracing my past failures and using them to learn and make my future better. I have goals to become debt free, grow my contribution to society and live my life the way I choose to live it. Looking back on my life just a few short years ago, I have come a hell of a long way!
When we base our goals on what society tells us we should strive for, what we are actually doing is putting our life on the path to mediocrity, the path to normal. If our goals are set by other people, whose life are we actually living? If we compare our goals and adjust them to fit the norm, we are really not accomplishing anything. We are not making progress in our own lives, we are just fitting in to what society expects of us.
So what do we do to change this? Simple, make our own goals and our own timeline. And by simple, I am not implying this is easy. Are you in your 40s and paying on student loans? You should feel good that you are making progress and have a plan. Are you 35 without investments? Although investing is good for your future, make your plan and invest when it won’t cause you to lose more than you make due to other priorities and debts. Yes, the sooner you invest, the more you can make, but sometimes it is just not possible or financially smart. Your age should not be a factor.
Creating Your Goals
The best thing about goals is that they are personal. No one can ever tell you what your goals should be or when you need to achieve them. I have many goals that I want to achieve, which did not come from a website, a blog post or what my friends and family think I should achieve.
I know this is going to sound so cliché, but my goals came from self-discovery and what makes me happy. Some of my financial goals are to continue to build my emergency fund (See “A Good Place to Start – Setting up an Emergency Fund“), build up a buffer in my bills account (See “Organizing Your Finances – Part 2“) and reduce my credit card debt. I do have smaller mini-goals for each of these as well. I have written and also linked to these goals, but it does not mean they are right for you.
Why do I have these goals? Because they each play a role in contributing to my future. Of course these goals are not going to be the same as yours, they shouldn’t be. Your goals should be based on your situation and where you eventually want to be regardless of age. Sure, there are great accomplishments when you have a deadline for your goals, but these deadlines are on your terms, not what society sets or what someone posts on a website.
For me, creating these goals was easy. All I did was sit down and think about what I want and where I want to be. Then I broke these ideas down into the steps that I need to take to get there. It is as simple as that. Executing the plan to achieve these goals is certainly not as easy as creating them, but that’s how it works. It is not supposed to be easy. If it was and my goals are not challenging enough, perhaps I need to take a deeper look at what I want to achieve. As Roy T. Bennett says “Your journey is your own and unique.”
As I continue through this journey of personal finance and development, I am working toward making it my own. I do not want to live someone else’s life or strive for someone else’s dreams. I will work on my personal goals the best way I see fit. This is my own way of how I work to defeat normal.
Are you creating your own goals? Do you have your own timelines? Do you have your own checkpoints? What is your success story or path? And I do not ask this to compare or scrutinize, but to use as inspiration for myself and other readers. As always you can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you have not followed me yet, please check out my pages on Facebook and Twitter @defeatingnormal. Thanks for reading and keep up the work on your journey to defeat normal.