You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
This month we celebrated the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Among his many contributions, King taught us about the value of education, how we can be change agents in our lives and the lives of others.
There is no better way to be a change agent then to determine the goals you have and go after them. Here are some goal-getting tips that will help you get there. You can apply these four steps to any goal you have – short term or long term. They are powerful tools that will help you get to where you want to be.
Step 1: Determine your goal.
It sounds simple enough, but the reality is that nearly 80 percent of us never set specific goals for ourselves. Think through what is you want to do and get as specific on the details as you can. For example, how much do you want to save for college? By When?
Step 2 – Visualize your goal.
Think about what the results will look and feel like when you reach your goal. Put a picture of what it looks like when you achieve your goal your home bulletin board and look at your board daily. If you want to finish your college degree – put a picture of a graduation ceremony.
Step 3: Create your plan and write it down.
Get out a piece of paper and make a plan. State your larger goal e.g. I will save (total amount) for my child’s college education by (specific date) at the top.
Then, decide how you are going to reach the goal and where the milestones are. Will you use payroll deduction, automatic bank withdrawals, or increase your contributions over time? Think it through and determine what else you need to do to complete the plan. Do you need to revise your budget? Can you hold off on buying a new car?
Make sure you write it all down! A study of Harvard graduates showed that the percentage of graduates that accomplished goals that they didn’t write down was close to 5%. A whopping 95% found they were more likely to achieve their goals when they were in writing.
Step 4: Share your goal with others.
Sharing your goal is a powerful motivator. It can also encourage others to help support you in meeting your goal with encouragement, or information, or other resources. You’ll be surprised at how many want to help you reach your goals, if you simply ask.
Step 5: Follow your plan.
Putting the plan into action can be challenging, but is definitely worth the effort.
Most of us can get through the first four steps, but having the knowledge of what to do doesn’t change things. Taking action does. Here’s where you do the work you need to do and take the action you need to take.
Another important lesson we learned from Martin Luther King is that there is power in action.
Take your first step today.
This post has been edited from Leaving a Legacy of College Savings, by Betty Lochner on the College Savings Plans Network blog.