When I was growing up, my parents joined a bowling league.
For those who aren’t familiar with the sport, it involves rolling a round stone down an oil-slick board to knock down ten pins. As with all sports, it’s easy to say, harder to accomplish.
People starting out end up needing to use bumpers on the sides to avoid rolling balls into the gutters that run alongside the board. A gutter ball means you’ve missed your goal, and you don’t get any points.
How do professionals consistently excel? And what lessons can we take for hitting our goals in life?
Photo by Ella Christenson on Unsplash
Hardest Way to Hit Your Target
New players try to hurl their balls down the alley, aiming for those pins set up 60 feet away. And sure enough, new players soon find themselves frustrated as they miss their target by wide margins.
Does that sound familiar?
This is how people usually try to hit their goals.
“I want to be a millionaire by this time next year!”
And then, one year later, they look at their bank account and find out they’ve missed.
That doesn’t mean they weren’t on the right track, though! In fact, setting only long-term goals can hurt your chances at achieving them if the worst happens: You get discouraged.
If getting discouraged means you give up, you have shot yourself in the foot.
That’s what started happening to me: I got discouraged and didn’t like going to the bowling alley anymore!
Fortunately, my parents taught me a valuable lesson.
The Better Way to Hit Your Target
On the bowling lane, there are a set of arrows painted only fifteen feet away. My parents taught that instead of aiming for the pins 60 feet away, the arrows made for a much easier target.
“But the arrows are so far from the pins! That’ll never work!” I complained (I was a teenager).
But here’s the thing: It works! It’s how the professionals consistently get high scores.
And sure enough, it’s how I started to improve. By aiming for the closer target, I grew more consistent, and was able to adapt to changes easier.
This lesson can be applied in financial goals as well. It’s where financial planning becomes so important.
Let’s apply it to the goal of becoming a millionaire.
What if instead we aim for a shorter-term goal: Getting a raise; cutting expenses; rebalancing our portfolio; opening an account.
Yes! A goal can be as simple as “Open an account”!
This is exactly how it works. The short-term goals add up to the long-term goal. And along the way, you know whether you’re on track. And achieving those smaller goals means that you don’t get discouraged as easily!
For the Doubters
“Short-term goals don’t count!” You might protest.
But they are what makes up every worthwhile goal.
Don’t believe me? Believe NASA!
When NASA’s Apollo 11 flew to the moon, that was a worthwhile goal. But the truth is that they were off course most of the time!
It’s true: 97% of the time, their rockets were off course. And they still made it to the moon and back. How? Because they set themselves short term adjustments when they realized they were off course.
And that’s exactly the kind of thing you can do in your financial life too.
How do you apply this?
A couple of important things can help you apply this to your financial life:
- Break your long-term goals into short-term financial goals. A financial advisor will be able to help you do this, because they’ve helped other people through similar situations. Alone, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds and discouraged.
- Benchmark yourself. Being able to measure your progress is so important. Most people, over time, don’t even realize how much progress they’ve made! And on the other hand, if you’re starting to get off course, taking stock of your situation will help you make your short-term adjustments.
- DON’T GIVE UP! Here at Plan & Act we believe the most important habit is mastering your mindset. If you can’t master your mindset, and give up, then your chances of hitting your goals IMMEDIATELY drop to 0%. DON’T GIVE UP!
It’s hard to do these things when you’re on your own. This is where a financial advisor can help you. If you want to hit your goals, click here to sign up for a FREE Bronze Account. A licensed financial advisor will reach out to set up a strategy session to get your financial plan underway!