One simple step can make your goals more attainable

What were your goals this holiday season? Did you set yourself a gift budget? A calorie budget? An exercise schedule, or maybe a list of the people you really wanted to see before 2008 wraps up? If so, did you write it down?

Writing things down helps us remember, but it also seems to stiffen our resolve to stick with something even when we can’t see how it’s going to end. A study of Harvard students, ten years after graduation, showed that those who had specific goals made salaries three times greater than the salary of the average Harvard graduate. Those with written goals made ten times the average.

Imagine the same impact on your investment goals. The economic downturn we’re embroiled in now won’t last for ever. Things will turn around. While you’re waiting, why not get serious about where you want to be 5, 10, 15 years from today? Are you just starting out, or getting ready to retire?

Whether you decide to set yourself SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound—or reach for the sky with the lesser known DUMB model – Dangerously Unattainable, Monstrously Big goals—start by stealing a bit of time for yourself this holiday week to look ahead, imagine what you want to achieve, and write it down. In another post, we’ll look at using those goals as the foundation for an investment plan.

What’s your experience setting investment goals? Has writing them down made any difference to the way you handle your investments decisions?

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