Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Importance of Diversified Goals

I'm not here to talk about investment strategy, at least not in the financial sense. I think we can all agree that you should get that advice from someone with more of a financial background than I have. Instead, I'm here to talk about how you invest your energy in goal setting.

I've always been a goal oriented kind of person. Crossing one thing off my list, and moving on to the next one - that cycle energizes me through everything I do. Paying off my student loans as quickly as possible is just one of the many goals I'm working toward now. I'm also saving for several trips, working toward some running goals, focusing on my diet, and working on new skills for both work and life. In fact, this blog is part of one of my goals - writing twice a week.

So why is it important to have diversified goals?

There are several reasons I think this is important. The first builds off the idea of Dave Ramsey's Snowball Method of Debt Repayment:
"Pay minimum payments on all of the debts except the smallest one then attack that debt with a vengeance. We're talking gazelle intense, sell-out, get-this-thing-out-of-my-life-forever energy. Once it’s gone, take the money you were putting toward that debt, plus any extra money you find, and attack the next debt on the list. Once it’s gone, take that combined payment and go to the next debt. Knock them out one by one." Source - Dave Ramsey
While I don't subscribe to this method of debt repayment, I do think that the Snowball Method can be applied in other areas of life, financial and not. This method basically says that you'll feel good as you cross debts off your list, and that good feeling will help carry you through to the next debt. I think the same can be said of goals - the more you achieve, the more you believe you can achieve.

This means that my debt repayment can't be my only goal - it will take me a couple of years to achieve it. In that time I'm bound to run into discouragement, especially if I don't have other successes to look back on along the way! My goals are spread out over various timeframes, from one day to one year to decades long. Those shorter goals will fuel my success in longer-term goals. In other words, I'm building the framework for success spirals.

Another reason that diversified goals are important to me is that they allow me to change focuses without feeling guilty. Now, I don't mean that I change focuses entirely, but having goals spread out over various interests means that when I can't fathom reading another article about personal finance, I can change gears and work on my half-marathon training plan or take a French lesson in Duolingo.

I spent an embarrassingly long time on this.
As long as I'm working on a goal, I feel fine about changing gears. When I move to something that's outside my goals - outside the grey circle - that's when I start running into problems. Since I have a lot of variety in my goals, I don't feel limited by them.

Finally, it's important to diversify your goals because your goals should reflect who you are. Now, maybe you are a person with only one thought at a time - you keep thinking that thought until you're done with it. I doubt it. I know I'm not that type of person. My goals reflect me, and they change as I change. If I only had one goal, paying off my loans, for the next two years, I think I would go insane. I would almost certainly drive everyone in my life insane if that's all I could talk about.

Having diversity in my goals allows me to have a diverse, fulfilling life. And that's what it's all about.

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