Last week, we discussed bad financial habits that prevent us from achieving our financial goals. From experience, we know that it is not only financial habits that can prevent us from achieving goals. In this article, we would look at the other habits that hinder us from achieving both financial and non-financial goals.
Absence of goals is a major hinderance to goals attainment. Like the saying goes, if you do not know where you’re going, any road will lead you there. The development of specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) goals is the first step in goals achievement.
Having goals is not enough, if we do not have SMART plans, we will not be able to achieve the goals. Plans must have actionable steps, to-do lists, assigned responsibilities and resources and expected outcomes, all within a specified period of time.
However, planning can lead to analysis paralysis. If we see ourselves always setting goals and planning strategies, but never achieving them, we may be victims of analysis paralysis. We need to overcome the habits that prevent us from moving from planning to implementing.
Procrastination is caused by many reasons. We must identify why we’re procrastinating and deal with the root cause. The reason for procrastinating differs from task to task. If we study ourselves, we’ll see that there may be a pattern to our procrastinating. If we procrastinate because we don’t enjoy budgeting and accounting, or we find it overwhelming we can overcome it by breaking the task into smaller steps and do the work in those steps. Sometimes, we procrastinate because of fear of failure. We should learn more about personal finance and the particular activity we want to do. With more knowledge comes confidence and self-motivation; but care must be taken because this quest for additional knowledge may be analysis paralysis in disguise. If we still find ourselves still procrastinating after breaking the task into steps and learning more about it, we must set deadlines and ask friends and family to monitor our performance. Associating with people who have similar financial goals would subject you to peer review and enable you to overcome inertia.
Sometimes, we have too many goals or the goals are too big. This can be solved by breaking them down into smaller ‘bite sized’ goals. They can then be achieved in turn. For instance, if the goal of a 25-year-old is to have N20 million worth of blue chip company shares by the age of 40, she can break it down into minimum annual investments/ reinvestments.
Fear of failure is usually rooted in a fixation on past events or present issues. But we must always remember that where we started from is never an indication of where we are going to finish. Examples abound of those who started from highly disadvantaged positions but finished very well, whilst the opposite is also the case; those who started well but finished poorly; case in point – lottery winners. If we have past failures, we need to identify their causes. Did I fail in my savings plan because I did not have a savings standing order with my bank? Or did I omit important expenses from my personal budget and as such I could not save what I budgeted to save? Once we identify the causes, we can avoid them going forward. We must avoid shifting the blame for our failures; no victim mentality. If others are to blame for our failures, it means we can only succeed if they change their behaviours. Of course, that is not the case, so do not abdicate the responsibility for your life — be in the driving seat.
Envy, evidenced by the habit of belittling the achievements of others, also prevents us from achieving our goals. Envious people claim that successful people got undue advantages. This implies that because you don’t have those advantages, you can’t achieve like or above them. Such thinking must be countered. We must also avoid pessimism and self-doubt by reminding ourselves of past successes, no matter how small.
Quitting is the most damaging habit. We must never quit. How can you win if you are no more in the race? Reviewing the reasons for past failures and continuously devising more effective steps to goals achievement would keep us motivated and in the race.
Financial goals achievement and wealth creation is a lifelong marathon. By avoiding the limiting habits, we would surely achieve our goals. Happy investing.