Did complete your End-of-Year Financial Assessment? If so, what’s good? What did you learn from your self-assessment; what do you want to be different in 2016; what do you need to be different in order to step up and take your financial management to the next level? I’d love to know.

If you completed the assessment, you know that on page eight I ask you to list the first three goals that come to mind. As you might imagine, I am an avid goal-setter. I’m this way for myself, and I’m a huge advocate of it for my clients. But unless you’ve worked with me, what you may not know is this: I don’t believe goal-setting is enough.

Goal setting is certainly better than the practice of simply dreaming and wishing.

But if you really want to rock it out in life (and who doesn’t!), what you need to do is invest in your goals!

Does the suggestion to “invest” in your goals strike you as odd?

It shouldn’t.

Especially when you take into account neuroscience research about how the brain works. In a piece Ray Williams wrote for Psychology Today, he states, “The brain is wired to seek rewards and avoid pain and discomfort, including fear.”

Hmm…in other words, your mind is resistant to the changes you often mentally, emotionally, and maybe even physically must go through to bring about the changes you want. This explains the limitations of goal setting.

And hence my suggestion to adopt a different approach to your goals — to invest in them instead.

For many, goal setting stops after you’ve written down your goals. (You do at least write down your goals, right?)

When I ask my clients to go beyond goal setting, I end up taking them through a six-stage process. The purpose of which taps into the motives for their goals; the need to prioritize their goals; and the habits that will make the goal “real.”

As you wind down 2015 and gear up for 2016, you may want to switch up your approach to goals. Here’s a template to help you do just that:

Stage one: Do an unedited brain dump of all the goals that come to mind. Set a timer for 60-seconds and don’t stop writing until you hear the beep.

Stage two: Segment your goals —

personal vs. professional; things vs. experiences; goals that will impact you exclusively vs. those that will affect others, too.

Stage three: Attach a timeframe to each goal —

0-1 years; 1-3 years; 3-5 years; 5-10 years; 10+

Stage four: Identify three goals from stage one and profile each one —

where are you now with this goal; why is this goal important to you; what will you benefit when this goal is achieved; whom else will benefit from you achieving this goal; what will happen if you don’t achieve this goal (to you and others, if appropriate); list any fears or concerns you have about this goal; lists what excites you about achieving this goal.

Stage five: Identify the money factor.

Even your non-financial goals have a financial component to them. This is probably the biggest mistake I find most people make when it comes to their goals. You need to know, even if it’s an estimate, what each of your goals cost and how much of your current resources are you willing (able) to allocate toward them.

It’s important to remember that every goal is fueled by your time, focus, attention, commitment…and, yes, your money!

Stage six: Evaluate your habits

What habits will you need to adopt, change, replace, practice in order to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Consider your financial and non-financial habits.

I call what I’ve just outlined above Goal Mapping. By design, it’s a more involved exercise than goal setting.

It’s December; it’s the holiday season; and your schedule is probably beyond crazy busy. In the midst of everything, though, I hope you’ve carved out time to assess the year that will soon become “was” and are making strategic plans for the year to be. (If not, hint, hint…)

On the heels of sharing with you the End-of-Year Financial Assessment last week, it only seemed fitting to also provide this goal mapping tool as a “next step.” It’s a tool I designed to help you intentionally invest in your goals.

I’d love for you to share the results of your assessment and goal mapping experience. If you’re game, let’s chat – click here.

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