Unfortunately, turning the calendar past 2020 hasn’t erased all the problems that we’ve been facing for the past year. If feelings of uncertainty and anxiety are starting to get between you and your 2021 goals, use this three-step process to plot a better path forward and plan for uncertainty.
(Re)Identify your purpose.
A big reason that so many New Year’s resolutions and goals fail this time of year is that they weren’t clear and actionable. In other cases, some folks get so caught up in the positivity of a new year that they set too many targets that aren’t important enough to follow through on.
If you’ve lost sight of your annual objectives, take a moment to refocus and reassess the goal you were so excited to achieve at the beginning of the year. Did you aim too high at something you can’t realistically accomplish? Did you aim so low that you aren’t really motivated anymore? Are external events such as financial market fluctuations and COVID-19 clouding your perspective on what you can and cannot do?
When so many things feel beyond our control, it’s important to refocus on what you can control and plan for uncertainty. Use your recalibrated expectations for 2021 to home in on one or two goals that will make this year a success.
Make a microplan.
So, you’ve decided this is the year you’re going to start saving for a new home, in anticipation of a big 2022 move? That’s a good goal! But what you don’t have yet is an actionable plan. If you just tell yourself, “I’m going to spend less every month and put more into a dedicated savings account,” it’s likely you won’t be happy with that account balance at the end of the year.
Microplanning is a strategy that can help you break down annual goals into actionable short-term steps.
Let’s say your dream house is $400,000. A typical down payment for a new house is around 6%. Assuming you can cover mortgage payments, your big Annual Goal is to have an extra $24,000 saved by December.
That breaks down to a Monthly Goal of $2,000 saved for your new house. Where is that $2,000 going to come from? A pay raise from a new job? Cutting some monthly budget items?
Once you’ve adjusted your monthly budget and cash flow, you can set a Weekly Goal that will help you hit that Monthly Goal. How much extra money can you save if you only carry out dinner once per week? Could planning meals in advance reduce your weekly grocery bill?
Finally, dig a little deeper and think about some Daily Goals that will flow upstream to your bigger goals. Do you really need that shiny item that’s the Daily Steal on your favorite shopping site? If not, swipe over to your banking app and make an extra deposit into your savings account instead.
Anticipate problems and solutions.
Now that you have a vision for what you want to happen, make a list of some things that could slow your progress towards your big goal, and how you might be able to clear those speedbumps.
Will your annual savings goal be able to sustain a sudden financial emergency, such as an auto repair?
If a COVID-19 spike makes you nervous about going to your local gym, do you have an at-home regimen that will keep you on track for your fitness goals?
If the pandemic has slowed by summer, increased demand for travel could drive up costs. Should you increase your family vacation budget as a contingency?
As we plan for uncertainty we are trying to anticipate what might be around the bend, using the cornerstone of our Life-Centered Planning process. To gain some clarity on your goals and your path through this uncertain year, schedule a meeting or a virtual chat with one of our advisors.
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