Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Set Deadlines to Achieve Financial Goals

"Nothing focuses the mind like the sight of the gallows." attributed to Samuel Johnson

The restriction of time allotted to an activity can help increase motivation and movement towards a goal. In addition, deadlines often help me better prioritize tasks and focus on the most important ones. For example, setting a goal of being a millionaire by 30 creates a higher sense of urgency than a goal of being a millionaire with no specific age. Without a time limit, it can be easy to pass on important tasks when there isn't a clear endpoint.

In my experience, here are some elements that are often necessary to effectively meet a deadline:
  1. Commitment - Needless to say, being committed to a deadline is important. In one of my assignments in another country, a common practice was to assign a new deadline when the existing one was missed. This resulted in about 90% of the deadlines being moved later during each weekly meeting. Unfortunately, deadlines were moved multiple times and were only occasionally met.
  2. Good planning - Know the steps that need to be done and scheduling them appropriately is a critical element to meeting a deadline. A missed step or reworking a step can sometimes add time to the plan.
  3. Access to necessary resources - Getting something complex done often requires more resources than a single individual and his knowledge. The ability to utilize the resources needed, when they are needed is a critical element.
  4. Excellent execution - Being fast and efficient at doing the tasks is a plus when working against a deadline.

While deadlines won't guarantee a successful outcome, they often offer the opportunity to check progress and, if needed, decide on a new direction to achieve the goal.

For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Wednesday for a new segment.

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2008 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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