When you are in financial stress, it is hard to think of anything but dealing with the problem at hand. Human nature is to deal with the present before dealing with the future. After all tomorrow never comes, right?
This is precisely when you should be thinking about the future most of all. By dealing only with the problems of today, you are dealing with the trees and not seeing the forest. You drift from one problem to the next. So maybe for the first time ever, but certainly in a long time, set down and think about what YOU want. Do not think about what you think you MUST do or what you SHOULD do, but rather what do you WANT to do. Think about your dreams and aspirations. OK, it sounds hokey, but bear with me. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Let’s try some basic steps:
- Set some long term goals – Don’t try to formulate a life plan all at once. When you look to the future, the furthest you can realistically see is about five years. Beyond that things get a bit fuzzy. So break things down into five year chunks. Think about where you want to be five years from now. What kind of job do you want to be doing? Where do you want to live? Who do you want around you? Be realistic; winning the lottery is not something you can plan for, but having a new career or advancing in your current career track is.
- Now consider what is likely to happen in the near future. There are the priorities. What life events are going to occur in the next 6 months to a year? Getting married (or divorced)? Expecting a child or sending that child off to college? Starting a new career or retiring from one? These are the ‘bumps’ in the road that can de-rail any plan.
Since you have already taken stock of where you are now by your net worth and history and your current budget and now have some basic goals, we have the pieces necessary to put together a plan. That New Year’s Resolution now has a fighting chance of success. Stay tuned….