Saturday, August 1, 2009

Post-It Goals

I promise, the next blog I write will be the “Stupid things I said in my late teens and early 20s.” I just wanted to write a quick blog about something I did last night that was a lot of fun and will hopefully be very beneficial.

First a little back story (if you don’t care, just skip to “The Activity.”)

I’m a stickler for making plans and setting goals. I don’t like just drifting through life. We’ve only got so much time on earth and I want to make the most of the time I do have. My “problem” is that I’m a dreamer. I think way too big and then get burnt out or just plain fail trying to make huge leaps instead of small steps.

I’m also a big Dave Ramsey fan. Several years ago, when I had a whole lot more debt than I do now, I read “The Total Money Makeover” and it changed my life. One tiny aspect out of that book that I grabbed onto was making small goals and achieving small victories. At the time, my mountain of debt seemed so overwhelming I didn’t even want to think about it. Dave suggested that to be successful at paying it off, I needed to focus on my smallest debt and pay that off to experience a victory. Even though the first credit card had only $500, I paid it off and it felt great! It motivated me to power through the next credit card and then the next. A series of small goals and victories eventually helped me wipe out my credit card debt. It was so beneficial that I decided to carry the concept over into other parts of my life.

The Activity

Last night my wife and I sat down and discussed the things that were most important to us in this period our lives. We narrowed our ideas down to 5 categories Debt, Savings, Home Improvements, Business and Fun and wrote all of them down on separate Post-It notes. Then we stuck them on the mirror in our bedroom. From there we focused on 5 goals in each category and wrote them all down on Post It notes and stuck those on the mirror underneath their category. Here’s kinda how it looks (you’ll have to imagine the dotted lines as post its)

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Debt Savings Home Improvements

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Car Loan $10,000 Remodel Bathroom

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School Loan 2 $8,000 Front Deck

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School Loan 1 $6,000 Kitchen Window

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Discover Card $4,000 Basement Windows

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Visa Card $2000 Interior Doors

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Now the fun part is going to be achieving our goals, from smallest to largest and then celebrating each of the victories with each other. Once the Visa is paid off, we’ll take down that Post-It, BURN IT and then maybe go to a nice dinner (using cash). For every $2000 we save over and above our current savings we’ll take down a Post-It and do something fun.

Speaking of fun it’s a very important part of the Post It wall. It reminds us to remain human while pursuing our goals and includes things such as visiting family in different parts of the country, going on a vineyard tour and working towards the highest goals of taking a trip to visit friends in Hawaii and later a resort in Mexico or Jamaica.

Once we wipe out a category, we’ll refill it with new goals, or we’ll make a new one and set the bar a little higher.

None of this is set in stone either. That would take the fun and motivation out of it. If we achieve a couple small goals and that big goal is still miles away, we may fill it in with some more small goals if we feel so inclined.

The whole process sounds a little complicated but it really only took us about 30 minutes to do and it was really fun. All in all, it’s a simple way to enjoy working towards what you want in life. I would highly suggest it to everyone, regardless of their marital status.