I have talked about early retirement and why I want it and what is my motivation. Those things are important but don’t mean much without a plan. Yearly goals keep you motivated during the year but they are a small sliver on the timescale. Let me tell you about my three levels of goals.
The Bucket List
Shortly after Ms. Blue Ribbon and I got out of debt I started thinking about the long term. We have the house and kids but what else do we want to do. I want to travel to Ireland and England again. I love those countries. The landscape, culture, and the people. When I dragged her to the 2012 Olympics the one in London (lol like anyone would go kicking and screaming to the Olympics) we both had an incredible time. When you talk about buildings in terms of old in the United States you speak in one to two hundreds of years but in Europe it isn’t crazy to speak in six hundred or more. That is one of the things that I love about traveling and why I want to make traveling part of my future financially.
It isn’t just trips either. We have ideas for things to change with the house and things we want to do for the kids (like paying for college). All of these things were added to our Bucket List. A bucket list that still grows the more our desires do.
The bucket list contains every major thing we want to do from now until 2035. This is the go-to document for planning long-term items because if we aren’t consciously saving for something it won’t happen.
The Five-Year Goals
This list is very much an abstract plan. No one can meaningfully plan 20 years in one spreadsheet (perhaps the Mad Fientist can). That is why we have a 5-year forecast of our yearly goals. This is fed by our bucket list and the minor goals we want to accomplish. The 5 year puts things into perspective to what we are meaningfully hoping to do soon. This is when you try to determine what is feasible and what may require some more planning.
I created my first 5-year goals after reading a great post by Life And My Finances. This helped me bridge the gap between my bucket list and yearly goals.
When I did my first draft of the 5-year goals I realized we could be biting off more than we could chew. I started moving goals around in a way that would make sure they could be accomplished and would not put a strain on the family by doing so.
Around the time I do our yearly goals I’ll take a look at the 5-year goals and see what needs to be pulled in and updated from the bucket list.
This is the rubber hitting the road. We have to figure out what we can do when in order to accomplish our goals but also not take on more than we can chew.
Take the 5-year goals targeted for the year and start filling in your yearly goals spreadsheet. I like to put them into categories to keep them grouped so they have a clean look and feel. The other half is figuring out when you want to complete what when.
Maxing out the HSA and Ms. Blue Ribbon’s Roth are all year goals designed in a way to be done by December 31st or sooner. I even track the contributions and visualize what percent we have completed dynamically. The other goals are generally a specific month or even day. I visit our yearly goals every month around the same time I do our net worth to see if there is anything we need to do. This will keep you looking at your goals and adjusting your behavior correctly to make sure you complete the goals.
That’s my three levels of setting goals. Having at least one of these is going to help you get motivated to get stuff done but having all will create a path to a future filled with exciting opportunities.
How do you track and manage your goals? Care to share how you keep them organized? Do you have a tip you want to share?