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Financial Advice from an Odd Source…

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My office is putting my through a 12 week management training course. While I have sincerely enjoyed the teachings about management techniques and understanding people, I have benefited the most from one statement…

Begin with an end in mind.

OK, so here’s the sad part, I don’t remember how exactly they applied that statement to management. BUT, that statement is HUGE for me personally.

Often times, I pick a task with no end. I want to get more fit or I want to eat a healthy diet or I want to live as a penny pincher and on and on and on. Here’s the problem: Unending goals like these will lead to burnout.

Head smackingly obvious right? Then why do I keep making these stupid never-ending goals?

I think that’s what I appreciated about the Dave Ramsey program and why it has worked for me. I was convinced to pay off one debt at a time. It’s a goal with an end followed by another goal with an end. I also think that’s why training for a marathon and a triathlon has kept me more motivated than working out without an end in mind. If I want to quit after I finish I can, but I have a feeling I’ll be signing up for another one as soon as I cross the finish line.

Rather than say, ‘I want to be debt free forever’, say ‘I want to pay off my car by next summer’.

Begin with an end in mind.

What is your end?


16 Comments

  • Reply Bucksome |

    Professionally, I’ve been using SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely for years).

    Thanks for the reminder how important it is for personal goals as well.

  • Reply Sharon |

    My most immediate “end” goal is to get my emergency fund fully funded. I’ve got about 5 months funded and getting that sixth month saved has really been a struggle.

  • Reply moonstars11 |

    Wow! What a profound statement. Thank you for that!! I have the same problem with never having “ends” in mind with my goals and I never thought about starting goals like such. Thank you for that and thank you for sharing your journey with the rest of us! =)

  • Reply [email protected] Finance |

    I like the advice. I’m actually taking an operations management course, and that seems like the ultimate part of management – work towards SOMETHING.

    But like you, I used to have lots of abstract goals that don’t really have distinct “ends” in mind. And you are absolutely right that when you DO have a specific goal, it’s much easier to work towards it.

    Might as well throw out an end myself – put together a final resume and find 10 companies I really want to work for. I’m at the internship stage, but “find an internship” might be an end, but too abstract to work towards. It’s easier to reach immediate steps that have recognizable and foreseeable ends.

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    The ‘wisdom’ that grabbed me was that a dream is something you want to happen, a goal is a dream with a plan. So I’ve been working on making sure that each ‘dream’ is actually a goal. That fits nicely with your “Begin with the end in mind.”

    I had three distinct goals just before our second child was born (larger home, trip to Australia, pay off the mortgage) and assigned a time frame for each (5, 10, 15 years). With the goal and plan set, I put all my energy into that and completed them in 2, 11 and 9 years. Turns out mortgage and trip got switched because once the mortgage started to get smaller, I didn’t want to stop the momentum and then it turned out we could combine the trip with a business trip so the cost was way lower making that goal more achievable.

    There are times when I can’t come up with a plan for a dream so in that case I just file it away in a “dreams” file folder and cease to give it any of my thought energy. Occasionally, I’ll go through that folder and see if any dreams need to be updated to goals and to enjoy seeing how I’ve matured as a person.

    Interestingly, 10 years ago, I put an article on a specific car in the the dream file and forgot about it. Three years ago we had an opportunity to drive in the car and fell in love with it, so tried to turn it into a goal (but failed, the manufacturer hasn’t brought it to North America) so it remains in limbo. But I had no recollection of learning about the car 10 years ago so when I discovered that fact, it renewed our interest in turning this dream into a goal.

    (I’m far too practical to import the car because we have no mechanical skills whatsoever so couldn’t keep it on the road ourselves and the dealers for that manufacturer in Canada have no interest in doing it for us.)

    The downside to achieving goals so easily is that once you have all that you were working towards, how do you come up with more goals?

    I have one educational one but aside from that I’m just floating along and feel slightly adrift. And my body is showing that so it is obviously time to get a good goal for my health.

  • Reply Stina |

    What a coincidence! As I am reading this, my daughter is reading Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Happy Kids book. It’s a picture book with easily understandable stories based on the 7 Habits (of Highly Effective People). One of the morals is “Begin with an End in Mind.” He states in the parent’s notes, and I’m assuming the adult version of the book, an unwritten goal is just a wish. So, plan it, write it, work it, acheive it. Sounds so simple doesn’t it.

  • Reply mikey |

    Great advice! That’s why Ramsey doesn’t say your goal is to get our of debt but to do the Baby Steps…

  • Reply Free Your Mind |

    This is a great post! This is something that I got from the Book “7 habits of highly effective people” that has stuck with me.

    If you don’t have a “clear and easy to reach” destination in mind, you will always get lost. That is why the concept of “Baby Steps” works.

  • Reply George |

    I think that is great advice to follow: instead of trying to achieve one thing after another with no break in sight, only make one goal at a time. Achieve it and then move on to the next one. This makes a lot of sense and is much easier to manage than 10 different goals in the horizon!

  • Reply Bobby |

    Wise idea. There’s an old quote that goes something along the lines of “For a ship without a destination, no wind is a good wind.” Also, the psychological lift you get from crossing to-do items off a list is immeasurable (or maybe it is:-).

  • Reply Nicole |

    A means to an end is important too. Glad you had the info to give you the means : )
    Good luck with your goals! Mine is to have a degree in the next 5 years.

  • Reply Dara |

    I’m finding a lot of inspiration from your posts and just wanted to send a note saying that I’m following.

    Right now I’m blogging about being in debt (though I’m not being openly honest with my readers about this debt) and not being able to find work and being a recent college grad.

    Thanks for sharing your stories and I found this statement to be too true for my life. What do you think about long-term goals. I feel like when I set long-term goals, they end up changing a lot as my situation changes because I am in such a state of limbo right now. I’ve almost given up making plans all together.

  • Reply marci |

    I don’t think I’ve ever recognized a difference before. I probably have made abstract goals in the past and wondered why they go unfinished. Now it is clear to me. They didn’t have an end in sight. Thank you for this enlightenment.

  • Reply Symptoms Of Panic Attacks |

    Yeah I think that you have to know what you what to achieve and where you want to get to; this is the only way that you will ever be able to achieve what you desire. I have set goals in the past and have difficulty reaching them; however as long as I know where I am going then I am sure to get there.

So, what do you think ?