It’s the second week of January already, I can’t believe it! Perhaps you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions, and I hope you have created your White Belt Vision for Financial Independence. If you have not had a chance to do that just yet, or if you have joined us just recently (welcome!), then I recommend that you revisit the following two posts, grab your pen and your favorite beverage, and jot down the answers to my questions…this vision for your future will serve you well and I highly recommend completing it before you do anything else:
- Earn Your White Belt (Create Your Vision)
- Kung Fu Girl’s Vision for Financial Independence (If you’re curious about mine)
But if you have already completed your vision for financial independence (congratulations and well done, Grasshopper!), then you are probably wondering what’s next!
Because although writing down your vision is absolutely critical to achieving it (remember Bruce Lee, “If you don’t aim at an object, how the heck on earth do you think you can get it?”), it will always remain just a “vision” or a “dream” unless you start actually making and taking actual action steps to make it become a reality.
And if you’ve crafted your vision properly, you ought to be extremely excited about doing whatever you possibly can to hurry up and make it your reality!
So let’s get moving…how do we take those next steps? How do you turn your vision into concrete action steps that you can take to move you closer to actually living it instead of just “dreaming” or “visualizing” it?
I’m glad you asked! It’s time to get your goals on.
Now, there are umpteen million websites, books, home-study courses, videos, programs, workbooks and more all devoted to “goals”…how to set them, write them down properly, and more, but fear not Grasshopper, this is KUNG FU Finance and we care about one thing and one thing only with respect to goals…achieving them!
And the best system I have ever found for achieving goals is the “SMART” system. This is the system that my very first manager at Intel gave me when I was just a young newbie new hire, and it has worked tremendously well for me ever since (and it’s super-easy to remember!).
And that’s what I like…SIMPLE, EASY, WORKS.
It goes like this:
When you use this system to write down your goals you will already be 90% of the way there to actually achieving them…nice!
Let’s see how this works with an example. Here is our sample “before” picture, a sentence from my own personal vision:
“My assets are internationally diversified so I am not dependent on any one country’s system for my money or my income.”
Well now, that’s nice, and it does meet my “excitement” criteria for visioning, but when it comes down to making it actually happen it’s a little vague…just reading that sentence I have no idea how to go about it or what specifically I need to do to make that happen.
However, when I transform that sentence into a set of SMART goals, look what magically happens:
KFG’s Internationalization Goal(s) for 2012:
- Open up a bank account in Singapore or Hong Kong with $50,000 USD by March 31, 2012.
- Remit final payment to Doug Casey’s La Estancia de Cafayate for our homesite by March 31, 2012.
- Investigate Tim Staermose’s “4th Pillar” trading system, decide whether or not to engage, and open up an International/Australian brokerage account if decision is yes by March 31, 2012.
- Investigate, decide on, and ship physical precious metals to an international private storage vault by March 31, 2012 .
Do you see how this works?
Suddenly I’ve gone from having this vague “hope” about being “internationally diversified” “one day” to having it more or less completely accomplished by the end of the first quarter of the year!
And I know exactly what I need to do to get it done…and if I achieve all four of these goals, by the end of March I will have a checking/savings account in Asia, real estate in Argentina, a brokerage account in Australia (if my decision is yes), and precious metals stored internationally (technically that last one is mostly done already).
THAT’s the power of some “SMART” goals!
And this works no matter where you are starting from…you can have goals about financial education, or opening your first brokerage account, or earning a certain percentage or number of cash flow each month, or saving a certain amount of money each month, or “automating” your finances, or….whatever fits your personal situation and vision.
As you can see, this system is very powerful, and each letter is critically important. Your goal does need to be:
- Specific (or else how will you know what to do or how to do it?),
- Measurable (or else how will you know when you’ve achieved it?),
- Achievable (otherwise you may get discouraged and give up),
- Relevant (to what you are trying to accomplish—duh) :), and
- Timebound (this one is critical…you’ve GOT to give yourself a deadline or I guarantee you will never get it done, unless you are super-human-self-discipline-man-or-woman…which I am decidedly not! Also one quick note here—I find that a 90-day or one business quarter timeframe works really well for this, maybe because that’s how I cut my teeth on this at Intel, but then you have your long-term vision and your next-90-day step-by-step plan…what more do you need?).
If you hit those five SMART letters in your goals, you will already be well on your way to achieving them, and you will find that it’s very easy to then break those goals down further into even more detailed steps if needed so that you can crush them by your deadline.
And yes, I do mean “crush”…
You want that mentality when working with your goals—that “killer-instinct-I-will-not-take-no-for-an-answer-I-am-going-to-crush-annihilate-murder-kill-completely-obliterate my goals!”. (I am quite possibly one of the world’s nicest people, but when it’s just me and my goals staring each other down, “nice” goes right out the window and those babies better prepare to get KILLED.) Game ON!!!
It’s either you, or them. And you are fighting for your life here, the future of your dreams, so it had better be YOU!
At the end of the day you want the score to read:
And you want to be reading that score while sipping your favorite beverage on a nice relaxing beach somewhere, or in your mountain retreat, or wherever your personal vision that you’re working toward decrees. It’s YOUR life, YOUR vision, YOUR goals, YOUR dreams, so go on out and get ’em and do NOT take “no” for an answer!
Please let me know if you have any questions about goals, and I would love it if you would share some of your goals with us in the comments! I will do my very best to help you achieve them this year.
And if you need help transitioning from vision statement into SMART goals, give me a shout about that too—I’m happy to help (and you’ll find it gets extremely easy with practice).
Here’s to being SMART in 2012…
To your financial success,
—Kung Fu Girl