Are you in debt or looking to become financially free? If so, then you need to become a tracker. Why do I say that? Because, in my experience, all winners are trackers. If you think of anybody who's achieved any kind of significant success in their life, it’s rarely been down to pure luck. Whether that's in the field of business, entertainment, or sport, it’s usually because they have all been trackers. They haven't just achieved great success just by chance. In most cases they’ve actually come up with a goal and they’ve also come up with a plan for how to get there. And most importantly of all, they've actually tracked how they are performing against that plan and made changes along the way so they can become the very best at what they do. Take the UK Olympic swimmer Tom Daley for example. Do you think he’d have been able to push himself as hard as he did if he didn’t know where he was aiming for and then tracked how he’d performed along the way? The same applies in business. A few years ago I was head of finance at an internet card business called Moonpig – a company that grew incredibly fast and achieved great commercial success because, like Tom, we had a goal, a plan and we tracked our performance along the way.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking - how does this apply to me? What can I specifically do today to make a positive difference to my finances? Simple. All you need to do is to follow these three steps:
1. Set a Goal.
I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but it really works. The idea of setting a goal can seem a bit wishy washy so that’s why I want you to be very specific. Goals such as “I just want to sit on the beach all day”, “I want to be a millionaire” or “I want to have a big house" are more like aspirations than goals because, whilst they might be attractive, it’s very difficult to assess your progress against them and the result is you won’t take the right kind of consistent actions to get you there. To inspire the right actions, I want you to think about what you want to achieve and by when. It could be something like, "I want to pay off all of my debts by December 2020", for example. Or it could be “I want to amass £5,000 in savings by February 2019”. The important thing is to put both a monetary value and a deadline on it because you’re going to measure how you’re tracking towards that.
2. Build a Plan
Suppose your goal is to amass £5,000 in savings by February 2019. What does that mean you need to do right now? How much do you need to save every month from now? Where is that cash going to come from? How will I ensure I don’t get side tracked? Now’s the time to take a few minutes to think about where you currently are with your finances and what you might be able to do in terms of positive but small actions in order to get there. Remember, it’s not about making sweeping changes you won’t be able to stick to. Small actions, repeated consistently, can make a huge difference.
3. Track your Progress
In some ways, this is the easiest part of the process but, whilst it’s the part most people neglect, it’s actually the most important. Every month, I want you to carve out 10 – 15 minutes, perhaps over a cup of coffee, to work out what's happened over the previous month. How far have you progressed towards your goal? What have you managed to achieve? Remember, even if you’ve not managed to stick to the plan, the important thing is, not to beat yourself up, but to work out what you can do differently over the coming month, either to continue the progress you’re making or to get back on track.
Finally, as with everything I talk about, the key is to be consistent. Track how you’re doing consistently and you will see that you’ll achieve some great results.
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