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    Three Ways to Keep Your Financial Goals

    By Brandon Miller, CFP–

    Now that we are nearing the April tax season, many people are setting financial goals that they hope will help to improve their lives. Considering that over half of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, improving financial choices is critical. Yet, research shows that around 92% of people fail to achieve such goals. Changing habits is tough, and well-intended plans can derail for a variety of reasons—from having too many goals at once to giving up too early. But, with the right mindset and plan, you can accomplish even the most ambitious objectives.

    Here are three tips to help you make your financial goals:

    1. Be specific about what you want to accomplish.
    Achieving an imprecise goal is nearly impossible, because you can’t quantify your success. Rather than focusing on a vague ambition, like improving your financial health, pick a clear, tangible goal you want to achieve in the coming months. Maybe you want to pay off $10,000 of credit debt. Or you want to save 15% of your salary for retirement. The goal you choose depends on your unique financial life, so only you know what priority is most important. No matter your objective, make sure it is measurable, specific, and achievable.

    2. Break down your goal into small steps.
    Big goals can feel overwhelming if you try to finish them all at once. So, cut up your larger objectives into digestible chunks. For example, rather than focus on a $50,000 savings goal, aim to save $250 a week. From there, break down that goal even further: What steps can you take each week to save it? Maybe you’ll bring lunch from home, renegotiate your phone contract, or make other relatively easy changes. Before you know it, your small choices will add up to a big accomplishment.

    3. Ask what “future you” would want you to do.
    Inevitably, you’ll face situations where you could easily fall back on old habits or give into temptation. Unfortunately, willpower isn’t enough to get you through these challenges, because it may actually be a limited resource. Similar to a muscle that fatigues from overuse, relying on willpower too many times may deplete your ability to say “no.”

    Instead of trying to power through temptation, ask yourself, “What choice would my ‘future self’ wish I’d made?” Reframing the situation in this way may help you to gain the perspective you need by causing you to stop and reflect. Instead of giving into impulses and immediate desires, you can make a choice that supports your specific, long-term goal.

    Depending on when you read this, we still have over 8 months left of 2018. When you look back at this year on December 31, what do you hope will be different than today? Start with that picture and follow the aforementioned steps. You just may be among the 8% of people who actually achieve their financial goals this year.

    Brandon Miller, CFP® is a financial consultant at Brio Financial Group in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals.