A couple of years ago, as I was coming off the typical Holiday binge-eating period, I decided to do something about it besides the all-too-common New Years resolutions, which usually die on the road to February. This time was different. I decided to get some help. I hired a personal fitness trainer. I was amazed at the similarities of what he does with his clients and what I do with my clients.
Ask Yourself Some Questions
Ask yourself why? Why are you doing this? Why are you Training/Planning? What brought you to this point? What do you hope to accomplish because of working with your Trainer/Planner? How will you recognize success when you see it? Can you visualize it? Are you prepared to set some goals? Have some accountability?
Be SMART with your Goals
Whether you are training to lose extra weight, to run for a marathon, or planning for retirement, change of careers, or building a comprehensive financial plan as a road map for your life, it all starts with goals. But it’s not enough to say: “I want to lose weight” or “I want to save for retirement”. For goals to be effective, they must be SMART:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If any one ingredient is missing, the rest of the plan won’t work. Also, we should note how each item is interconnected. For instance, Relevance and Achievability must be gauged within the context of Time. If you want to lose 30 pounds in one month, that will likely not be achievable or relevant in that time frame. Nor would it be reasonable to expect that you could amass $1 Million starting from 0, within a year, by putting in $500 a month. It may seem simple, but you’d be surprised how many people have unrealistic expectations.
Distinguish Between Needs and Wants
In a fitness plan, you typically have a target number of calories to hit per day. As long as you are burning more calories than you take in, your weight goes down. In financial planning, we work with a budget. If you spend less than the budgeted amounts of income and asset values, your net worth goes up. It just means sometimes you have to say no to that dessert, the same way you say no to that expensive vacation.
In both cases, exercising discretion in your favor helps you increase that ROI – Return on Investment.