Every year, most of us set goals that we want to reach by December. These goals might look like wanting to get in better physical shape, paying off debt or positioning ourselves for a home purchase. It's easy to set goals and forget about them as life moves along. One thing that can help keep your goals top-of-mind is reflecting on how you're doing. So, as we close out 2022, it’s important to take time to reflect on the year that was. Now is the time to think about the goals we set for ourselves, our successes, and our lessons learned along the way.
Reflecting on your financial goals specifically from the previous year is a helpful exercise to remind you what your priorities were at the beginning of the year. And, see how far you got with each goal, and what you learned from the experience. All of which can guide you in setting new goals for the coming year.
Last year's successes
When taking stock of wins it’s helpful to look at how you achieved the goal. For example, did you improve your physical health through diet, exercise and mental training? Did you travel more than ever or spend more time with family and friends? Usually, the progress you’ve made on these goals are tied to specific actions taken.
These lines of questioning can also be applied to financial goals. What was the most successful investment that you made? Was there an unexpected expense that took a large chunk out of your budget at the end of a specific month? If so, how could this have been avoided or prevented the next time around (i.e., automating savings contributions)?
It’s important to look at what plans and strategies worked well and what didn't. Take a moment to think about this past year. What was your biggest financial win? We encourage you to do a deep dive into how you achieved it by asking yourself a few questions:
If there are certain aspects of your plan that worked well, consider keeping them in place going forward.
Last year’s lessons learned
For goals you set that perhaps you didn’t reach or decided to change, we don’t want to consider them a loss, but more an opportunity to learn. If something didn't work out as planned or if a new opportunity presented itself during the course of the year, make sure that these elements are included in next year's planning process. Think about a financial goal you had for this year that you didn’t accomplish. You can take a similar approach to understand why. Consider asking yourself questions like:
If you find a pattern on why goals were missed, it can help you change course. By reflecting on the past, we can make changes in the future.
Setting new goals
At this point in 2022, you're probably already thinking about your financial goals for 2023 and beyond.
This is a good thing!
But if they are the same as last year then maybe there's more that you can do to make them exciting and achievable.
In order for any goal to be achievable, it needs to be clear what you want to accomplish and the steps you need to take. For example, instead of saying “I want to increase my emergency fund”, try “I’m going to save an additional $500 per month to increase my cash runway to 3 months of living expenses by the end of December”. The former is a good starting point, but the latter states what needs to be done in order to reach the goal.
Reflecting on the past can be a powerful way to learn what we could do better and make changes for the future. It's also a great opportunity for us to celebrate all that we accomplished this year. Take some time this holiday season to set financial goals for yourself in 2023 - and beyond!
Range is here to help.
With Range, you can work with our team of Certified Financial Planners and get answers to all your money questions.