October is over – goals for November


I’ve been setting monthly goals this year, and it’s helped to clarify my plans, break them into smaller tasks, and to track progress along the way. It also adds pressure which can be a great thing in getting us to take action. However, I’m also discovering the downside of this goal-setting, which is what happens when you don’t meet your targets? Hands up who has ever felt de-motivated, and fed-up, because we’ve not achieved what we set out to achieve? If the opposite of a sense of achievement is a sense of failure, then I think setting goals can be counter-productive.

We’re part-way into November, so it’s that time for a quick assessment of how I did with my October goals.

  1. Choose the funds for my stocks and shares ISA
  2. Design a logo and leaflet, and write some website content, for a new business
  3. De-clutter and sell some more unwanted items
  4. Work out how much extra I need to save / earn per month to be able to retire at 55

It doesn’t take an Einstein to realise from my opening paragraph that I’m feeling disheartened with my progress, latest monthly summary below:

  1. I’m close to picking the Vanguard Lifestrategy 60 fund, with some reservations, but I’ve still yet to make a decision.
  2. I haven’t written any website content, but I’ve asked someone to help with the logo and leaflet. So I’ve taken some action, even if it means I’m not doing it myself, and I’ve been happy to forget about it for a few weeks while the task is in someone else’s hands.
  3. I’ve de-cluttered 72 items this month, though made only 99p by selling 4 books on eBay (yes, 25p per book…)! 41 items went to a charity shop, 27 in the bin, and I got rid of 2 bags of shredded papers, and a box of recycled papers. I have one clear room, and am part-way through another.
  4. I haven’t even thought about this goal!

It’s not as if I did nothing, I can see I made some progress. So maybe it’s because I didn’t achieve 100% that I feel de-motivated?

For sure, it’s partly because I’ve taken so long to pick the ISA fund, and that particular goal has rolled over month on month. Yet I know I’ll probably make a decision in the coming days.

Partly, it’s because I want results instantly, and I probably need to learn some patience. I decided I’m going to set up a business, and I’m frustrated because it’s taking me longer than I expected. I’m trying to de-clutter, but it takes longer than I want to dispose of items once I’ve decided they can go. One achievement – decide what to keep or throw – suddenly creates new tasks – list the items on eBay, for example. Some days are great because everything comes together, while other days you work and will only see the results at a later date.

It’s not listed above, but it’s an unwritten aim that I shouldn’t spend more than I earn. So I’ll admit one reason I’m annoyed is that I overspent this month, with no obvious explanation why, other than it being a 5-week month.

Possibly it’s because it’s around this time last year when I had my retirement shock and first realised my pension was far from enough to retire on. The de-motivation comes from questioning whether in real terms I’m any further forward despite my efforts this year.

I think the answer with the goal-setting lies somewhere in the balance between having regular targets, while also maybe forgetting them altogether and focusing on a broad sense of direction. It’s a topic I feel inspired to come back to, but for now here’s my list of goals for November:

  1. Decide on the funds for my ISA
  2. Go back to basics – spend less than I earn
  3. Save with a purpose – work out how much to save for short-, medium-, and long-term goals
  4. Work out how much extra I need to save / earn per month to be able to retire at 55
  5. Carry on de-cluttering – tackle the pile of items for eBay, also an old computer, and find a dealer who wants our unwanted vinyl
  6. Next steps with new business

This is a big list for the next 3 weeks, but it reflects the fact that it’s a year since I started thinking about my finances. It’s time to stop thinking and to make decisions. The ISA indecision has made it clear to me that, despite the best intentions, if our finances are not automated then life gets in the way and months go by with no action. I’ve saved nothing into my ISA over the past 7 months because I’ve yet to decide what funds to use. We have large expenses ahead of us, and I’m not comfortable spending large sums of money without knowing how this fits into our overall financial goals. So this month is all about deciding our priorities, I’ll report back in a few weeks!



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4 Responses

  1. weenie says:

    I understand your feelings of demotivation but don’t beat yourself up over this.

    Just take small steps, all heading in the right direction and you’ll get there.

    You’re right not to rush into investing and it sounds like you need to figure out those large expenses ahead of you – if there’s any remote possibility that you may need that cash for expenses, then it’s probably not a good idea to invest it. Anyway, if you do invest, I don’t think you can go wrong with VGLS 60%.

    I don’t think I’ve ever really set myself monthly goals only because I know what I am like, ie I would not achieve hardly any of them!

    Good luck with yours!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Weenie! It’s interesting you don’t set monthly goals, do you have longer-term ones that you refer back to every so often? Monthly goals might be too much, yet I work better with a deadline and am worried I’ll achieve next to nothing without them! I’ll need to work out how to keep motivated if I carry on with them!

      • weenie says:

        Hi Sarah
        I set myself a few annual goals. I decided to keep it simple this year, as I thought I had too many goals last year and I was both distracted and I guess a little demotivated when I couldn’t dedicate myself to aim for all of them! I hear what you’re saying about the deadline thing – it’s just that for me, monthly would be too much!

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