the importance of long term goals

January 7th, 2008

The Importance of Long Term Goals

Something I’ve learned over the course of the last year is that you can’t always predict triumphs, and you can’t predict setbacks. Since I started this blog, we’ve had several minor setbacks and a few major ones, and in each case, I’ve (eventually) looked toward the future and felt that we’d be able to get back on track for the long term, even if the short term wasn’t looking quite so good. However, when we had some small or not-so-small triumphs in the form of unexpected income that could be applied to debt, I immediately started thinking about readjusting our goals and speeding up our debt reduction plan.

Which, in reality, is setting myself up to not be able to meet my goals. Just as we have had unexpected things happen monetarily in a positive direction, we’ve also had things happen in a negative direction we couldn’t have predicted. And if I shift up my goals in response to every positive occurrence, I’ll have to shift them back downward every time something negative happens. And I really do not like to shift things backwards. Goals aren’t effective when they are constantly moving targets.

This is not to say that I don’t want to get out of debt ahead of our original December 2010 goal. I would be more than thrilled if we do manage to get out of debt in 2009, and I am still hopeful that we can make that happen. I will continue my focus on snowflaking and generating new sources of alternative income and dedicating every penny we have to debt reduction. But reasonable long-term goals help keep things in perspective. Just because December 2010 is my goal doesn’t mean I can’t come in ahead of it. But I don’t necessarily need to constantly adjust my long-term goals to reflect that.

A commenter named Jane said this as part of her comment on one of my recent posts about the car repairs:

This doesn’t put you behind, just less ahead than you’d hoped.

And it really resonated with me. Keeping my eye on the long-term goal of being out of debt in 2010, this recent setback is just a (somewhat large) blip on the screen of my entire financial horizon. December 2010 is still firmly in reach. And I can’t forget that.

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6 Responses to “The Importance of Long Term Goals”

  1. That’s a great observation about your behaviour. I try not to be too strict with goals or plans because otherwise it’s too frustrating if you miss them even by a little bit.

    Mike

  2. I think you’re right. Another thing my husband always says to me (he’s foreign, so imagine a nice accent with it) is, “You’re doing pretty good for your age!” It’s so true, because if we look at everyone around us, they’re doing the wrong things, but we pressure ourselves to be so perfect. Life happens and “this too shall pass”!

    Good luck.

  3. The fact that emptying your emergency fund is driving you nuts is because it was your cushion — your security blanket. It makes sense that it would be disturbing to have to use that money. But just think about how you would have handled this same problem a year ago. It would have made sense to just buy another car — after all, you deserve a new car and going further into debt would not have meant a thing to you. Everybody has car payments, right? I’ll be praying for you — that a peace will come to you and you’ll be able to rise a little higher a see the big picture — as God sees it. Your goal of 2010 is still a healthy and mighty goal. You just got greedy and wanted it sooner. My hubby and I had a goal of being completely out of debt (including the house) in 5 years. We met that goal with 4 months to spare. God is faithful when we are faithful. I’m thoroughly enjoying watching you win and grow through your journey. God Bless you.

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