Finding financial and career success is easier said than done. For a lot of us, knowing what to aim for is already a major challenge. In that case, you need a plan — a plan for making plans. Here’s how you can get started:
1. Write down SMART goals
Sweeping declarations like “I’m going to be rich!” don’t often lead to fruitful action. That’s why you should opt for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound — or SMART.
Ambition is empowering, but remember to stick to goals that are realistic and achievable within a working timeline to keep the drive and passion going.
Here are some examples:
- I will pay off 50% of my student loans five years after graduating.
- I will save $500 on eating out for this month.
- By this time next year, I will be working one rank higher than my current position.
2. Break down big goals into small goals
Your Passion Planner can be your reliable sidekick when you set goals. Write down your bigger objectives in the Passion Roadmap, which you can break down into smaller milestones on a monthly or even daily basis. While macro goals are important, leadership keynote speaker Sabina Nawaz explains that they can be burdensome, even demotivating to a point. They can be too grand and impossible to achieve right away.
By breaking them up into smaller chunks, you can get a clearer picture of your financial or career progress — that can be all the motivation you need.
We all lead different lives, hopefully filled with passion, but these are some examples of financial and career goals that everyone can try:
Create a monthly budget
A micro-goal, but one that is still very important for financial management, is setting up a monthly budget. Our Finance Tracker can be particularly helpful in making sure that you’re not spending more than you’re making.
Pay off your debt
It’s hard to give debt payment advice that works for everyone. However, you might be more successful by paying off your higher-interest debts first. This is called the debt avalanche strategy, which Business Insider states can lead to faster payoffs. This also ensures you’re not just shaving off the top by paying growing interest rates.
Save for retirement
You should start saving for retirement as early as now, so you can enjoy your golden years to the fullest later. Starting in your 20s, a Marcus article on retirement savings outlines how saving 10 - 15% of your income is highly recommended. Your basic retirement options include a 401(k) from your employer or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for those who are self-employed. One useful tip is to automate your contributions so you don’t have to worry about savings. And don’t touch your retirement fund, no matter how sizable, under any circumstances.
Set aside an emergency fund
What if there’s an emergency situation? That’s what an emergency fund is for. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s “50-30-20” advice on budgeting can be a useful guide for young savers. This entails allocating 50% of your budget on necessities, 30% for leisure, and 20% for savings. That 20% can be split into your retirement savings and emergency fund savings. The general rule of thumb is to have six months’ worth of income in a high-yield savings account. This lets you prepare for unprecedented situations, like job loss or a sudden medical expense, without bearing too much of a financial loss.
Build your professional skills
Jobs are more enjoyable when you’re actually learning something. This is why you should always be on the lookout for opportunities that help you build your skillset. Upskill through additional courses, workshops, or even online classes.
Get a promotion
Career advancement looks a little bit different for everyone. First, motivational speaker Simon Sinek urges everyone to discover their purpose, or their “why.” Applying this process at work can help you figure out your career goals. For a lot of people, moving up the career ladder is a great way to measure career advancement. If this is something that resonates with you, you can start with smaller steps. Volunteer for more important fulfilling responsibilities or step up to become a project leader. These are great benchmarks of career growth and will set you off on the right track.
Discover your purpose in life
This may sound a little too vague, but hear this out: The Japanese have a term for one’s life purpose, Ikigai, which literally translates to life and worth.
It’s where your mission, vocation, profession, and passion meet, and it’s a good guide for finding your true purpose in life.
You might be wondering how to find your Ikigai, and to do that, you need to ask yourself these important questions:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What can you be paid for?
- What does the world need?
Find a job that you’re truly passionate about, something that adds value to your life and others, and something that you can get paid for. Once you discover what that is for you, you’ll never work a day in your life!
3. Track your progress
Of course, simply setting goals is only half the battle. Another great use of your Passion Planner is for monitoring your financial and career progress. Aside from getting an encouragement boost, you can also use this step to identify any necessary adjustments as well as ways to overcome problems you encounter along the way.
Try not to dwell too much on how much more is left to do — instead, use this time to give yourself a pat on the back for all the progress you’ve made!
Reine Joanna is an HR manager with a passion for helping people plan out their careers. When she’s not working, Reine Joanna enjoys spending time with her husband, their young daughters, and their dog, Rufus.