What do we want? To get what we want! When do we want it? Now!
That’s what it might sound like if there were a protest about personal finance in your brain. For some reason, we’re wired to want immediate gratification in almost every aspect of our lives — from take out food to eBooks to software downloads.
But sometimes the long way is the short way. That is, when you do things the right way, you experience more lasting and permanent success or happiness. And that’s definitely the case for personal finances. Here are three simple questions you need to ask yourself to figure out your shortest path to personal finance happiness:
Question one: What exactly do you want?
State your goal explicitly before you go any further. And be specific. The more clear you are about what you want to do, or what you want to acquire, the easier it will be to achieve success.The hardest target to hit is the one you can’t see.
Bonus: WRITE IT DOWN! Even better, write your goal down and post it on the fridge or frame it for above your headboard so you can see it as you climb into bed each night. Having your goals right there in front of your face is absolutely invaluable to keeping your eyes on the prize and remembering what you are working for each day.
Question two: When do you want it?
Do you want to hone a skill in a few days? A few months? A few years?
Do you want to purchase an item sometime this year? Sometime this decade?
The timeframe for when you want (and will reasonably be able acquire) something is important. Be honest. Be reasonable. And then, be diligent. Stick to your timeframe and know that you will get what you want in the time that you have determined that you will.
Question three: What can you do?
After figuring out what you want and when you want it, break the large task of getting what you want into several small pieces (also known as milestones). How many small pieces? It depends.
If you save for a deposit for a home, you may only have a few milestones. The milestones might only involve you reaching certain savings goals by certain dates.
But depending on your goal, your list of milestones might be longer.
One milestone might involve you securing another form of income. A milestone might involve you deciding who sells an item that you want at the best price. Another milestone might require you to spend time researching a subject.
Before you go any further toward achieving your goals, use these three questions to decide what you want, when you want it, and what you can do to get what you want.