Why Don’t We Set Goals?

If goal setting is so important to success, why do so few people do it?

Over the last several weeks, I’ve read and listened to lots of opinions on this subject.

Here are two of the more interesting reasons I found:

  • Lack of Belief & Skepticism

Despite many scholarly reports to the contrary, most people think that setting goals will not work. Let’s think about this one for a minute. When some fool on late night TV tells us he can show us the “secret” of the stock market, we want to believe but when we hear that consistent, focused effort over time works, we’re skeptical.

Despite how silly that sounds, I do believe this affects most of us at least some of the time. If you feel this way, here’s our fix: Suspend your belief for the duration of our challenge. If you can say, “I am not sure this is going to work but I am willing to put it to the test”, you can get past this obstacle.

  • Not willing to pay the cost

I found this interesting article by Stuart Goldsmith. Goldsmith thinks that it is laziness or inertia that keeps us from setting goals. He contends that while we want the goal we aren’t willing commit to doing the work necessary to achieve it. If that’s the case it’s really a wish and not a goal.

Selecting the right goals is critical to overcoming this obstacle. Certainly, there are things we would love to do, be or have but we are not willing to pay the price. When we select our goals we will guard against choosing wishes.

So when all you friends rattle off their New Year’s Resolutions, let your resolutions be: I will learn to mindfully set and achieve goals in 2012.

Among the most commonly cited reasons that people don’t set goals:

  • Fear of Failure

I believe this may be that thing that stops most of us. If you can’t see this in yourself, certainly you’ve seen it in a kid. When a kid refuses to try out for a sport team (that you know they want to play on) by saying the team is stupid or the coach is no good – most of the time it is this FEAR of FAILURE that is driving their behavior. If we do not commit, we cannot fail.

I am sure this is the one that gets me most often. If I don’t write down clear objectives, then any progress no matter how slight or even any lack of backsliding can be labeled a success. What I will need to do throughout our challenge is to be aware of my fear and search for ways to overcome it.

  • Fear of Success

People tell me this exists but it is much harder for me to see than Fear of Failure. The theory is we are all afraid of change and it does not matter if change is brought on by success or failure. I think for the purposes of our challenge we’ll lump these together and just call it FEAR.

  • Don’t Know How/Past Failures with Goals

I hope this is your sticking point because this is easy-peasy to fix. Most of us think we have tried to set and achieve goals in the past but were they really goals or were they wishes? Did we really apply consistent effort towards achieving the goal?

Here’s what I know to be true and you’ll find it on page one of your Pick Four Workbook.

Small Steps Work.

Consistent Effort Works.

Group Support Works.

If you are ready to learn how to set and achieve goals, join me for the  Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012 Goals Challenge.

Beginning January 2,  I’ll  write every Monday as I work my way through the Pick Four workbook choosing and setting four real goals for myself . You can follow along (and hopefully participate through comments, email and meetups) and choose four of your own. This is NOT just for financial goals.

Here’s how to join in:

1) Get your workbook, either from Amazon or ask me for one (as of this minute I’m out but I have more on the way)

2) If you are not already a subscriber to BeyondDave, become one by entering your email above the ” Subscribe me!” box  halfway down the right column.

That’s it. If you can keep your fear under control long enough to accomplish those two little steps, you will be well on the way to Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012.

Previous Posts in the Series


Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012

The Holiday Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) Game


The Holiday Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) Game

As we continue our countdown to the start of the Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) in 2012 series, I have a fun Holiday Game for you.

When you gather with your family and friends over the next several days try this:

Pass out a pen and paper to your holiday guests and ask them to list as many of their dreams as they can in 5 minutes.

Instruct them not to worry if their dreams sound outlandish or unobtainable.

To help get them started, ask them:

Have you ever dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trial (me) or riding your bike cross-country (me too) or writing the Great American Novel (not me) or working at Google? Do you want to drive a Ferrari, learn to fly, or adopt? Write it down.

Now give anyone a chance to share some of the dreams they have listed. Who had the most ambitious, the most surprising or the most realistic goals?

Have fun with it but DO NOT allow anyone to criticize anyone else’s dream.

Is there a better gift to share with the people you love than your dreams and aspirations?

Pre Series Posts:


Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012

Be, Do and Have MORE (of what you want) in 2012

We are counting down to the start of our free Be, Do and Have More (of what you want) Goals Series.

Here is how it is going to work:

Get yourself a copy of the workbook, Pick Four here. They are 4 for $20; so find three friends.

Or, send me an email with your physical address and tell me you want to join up and if you promise to use it, I’ll probably mail you a copy at no cost.

I’ll write about my goals every Monday, starting with “How to Set a Meaningful and Reasonable Goal”.

You can lurk and write in your workbook; or you can participate through the comments (better!) and write in your workbook; or you can come to a meetup and write in your workbook. As you are probably already sensing no matter how you relate to the series, you MUST write in your workbook.

We will each pick 4 goals and spend 12 weeks holding each other accountable to them.

Who should do this?

Everybody! Goals work! And you and everyone you care about should have some goals. Not in your head things that you want to do some day, but real concrete objectives that you are currently working on. These goals can be almost anything and you don’t need to pick them now; we’ll do that together.

Get Started!

1) Get your workbook, either from Amazon or me, Casssie@FeatherstonCoaching.com

2) If you are not already a subscriber to BeyondDave, become one by entering your email above the ” Subscribe me!” box  halfway down the left column.

That’s it. Two steps and you are on the road to Being More, Doing More and Having More in 2012.


Previous Post in the series Busted  Next Post in the Series The Holiday Be, do and have More (of what you want) Game


Don’t you hate it when you get called out for failing to walk the walk? It happened to me again last week.  Jim and I sat down with our Wealth Manager (I wish we needed a Wealth Manager), I think we are really more in the category of needing a Savings Adequate for a Simple Life Manager. Anyway, it was an interesting sit down.

I was ready for the regular risk tolerance questions, I had a handle on what investments we have and where they are but I totally failed every goal question.

Really? I spend all week helping people get to where they want to be. We talk a lot about goals and setting them S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted), writing them down and really using them as a way of taking control of your life and your future.

And, there I sat and could not answer a simple “What’s your income goal for next year?” question – let alone all those 5 year and beyond questions.

We have done really well with our financial goals for last several years, we got out of debt, completely and totally including the house, changed our (well mostly me, Jim never did spend) spending habits and have become very intentional with our money. And then, I think I felt done.

The best I could come up with was my financial goal for this past year was not to spend any of our savings. Wow, that is bold. That is like having a goal of not getting arrested, not going hungry, not getting fired, not gaining another 20 lbs. Lame, lame, lame.

So thanks for the wake-up call. It’s time for “back to basics”.

Zig Zilger has always been one of my favorite guys to listen to and he knows a thing or two about goal setting. Seth Godin’s Domino Project has republished Zig’s The Performance Planner as a cool little workbook that Amazon sells in a four pack for $20. So get three of your friends and spend $5 a piece and let’s accomplish 4 big goals together next year.

Maybe you don’t need to read it but I need to write it; so starting January 2, every Monday for twelve weeks will be “Goal Monday”.

I have three workbooks that I would love give to three friends who agree to help hold me accountable for those 12 weeks. Just ask.

NEXT POST IN THE SERIES Be, Do and Have MORE(of what you want) in 2012

Wild Idea #342

OK, here’s the great idea in a nutshell for my friends that won’t read 300 words.

Sell the house. Buy THREE energy efficient, low property tax, little houses in interesting places, find two other couples that think this is a cool idea and play musical houses every couple of months.

House #1: Close to the Appalachian Trail in a small urban community where we could live almost car free.  See listing here


House #2 Tiny, very private waterfront cottage off the grid way up north on Prince Edward Island See listing here

Finally, House #3 off the grid and off the beaten path in Hawaii. See listing here

I wouldn’t want to spend all winter on Prince Edward Island but how cool to spend part of the winter there, I bet you would feel like you were the last people on earth some days. And wouldn’t it be great to be out in the tropical rainforest in Hawaii while they are shoveling snow in the east.  Or, riding your bike along the Blue Ridge parkway in October?

I found all these places on GreenHomesforsale.com because utilities costs are one of the things I hate paying. We’ll spend an average of $330 a month for electric, water and trash while in some of these green homes those expenses are more like $400 a year.

Another expense I hate paying is property tax. We pay about 2.5 times the combined property tax for all three of these houses.

I have no information on what these homes cost to insure but I’m fairly certain I could insure all three for significantly less than we pay in our hurricane prone state to insure our one home.

I’d happily trade the saving in taxes, insurance and utilities for the additional travel costs involved with a roving lifestyle.

So what do you think? Is this a cool idea?


How to Buy an Engagement Ring

It’s laughable how fast many of us non-conformists buckle in the face of public opinion when it comes to some purchasing decisions.

For many years, the diamond industry has told American grooms-to-be that they should spend two month’s salary on an engagement ring.  Brides-to-be are not immune; they have been conditioned to measure the depth of his devotion by the size of the rock.

So if you shouldn’t spend two month’s salary, how much should you spend?

The “easy to say but not so easy to do” answer is to spend what you can afford and do it in proportion to the ring’s importance to you and your fiancée.

Let’s look at this more closely.

Case 1: We have the money, we have no debt, and we have a 6-month emergency fund.

If one of the mutual early goals of your marriage to is buy an old farmhouse on 10 acres or to travel extensively, or become a single income family, how much money do you already have put away to pursue these dreams? If you spend $5 or $10 k or more on a ring, how much longer will it take you to reach that goal? Is that wait worth it to each of you?

Case 2: We have the money, we have no debt, but if we buy the ring we want, we will have only  a $1000 emergency fund.

Tread carefully here.  Don’t listen to those that tell you a diamond is an investment. It’s not. You do not intend to hold this ring for five years and then sell it for a profit. A thousand dollars is a tiny emergency fund especially if you own your home (think leaky roof or broken water heater), have children (think orthodontist or math tutor) or have just one income. Maybe you would have less stress and more happiness if you purchase a less expensive ring and left more in your emergency fund.

Case 3: We have the money saved but we have debt.

Seriously consider going cheap and paying down that debt. Really, who cares what your friends whose marriage lasted 9 months think? Money fights are one of the leading causes of divorce. Make the commitment starting with this decision to become a financially healthy couple.

Case 4: The jewelry store will give us 6 months to pay with no interest.

Yikes. There is a tried and true method to determine how much you can afford to spend. It works for rings, TV’s and cars. Go online and look at the balance in your checking account. If you cannot afford to pay for it, you cannot afford to buy it. Do not mark the beginning of you new life by going further in debt.

Spending less on an engagement ring does not mean you have to settle for a cigar band. There are lots of options and you certainly can find a way to stay within your means.

  • A second hand ring may allow you to have what you want at a price you can afford.  Often you can find a very unique cut or style in a pre worn ring.
  • A fake. If you’ve really got you heart set on a diamond, get  a decent quality fake and replace it with real at your 5th anniversary.
  • An engagement ring can be anything you want. It doesn’t have to be a diamond, it can be a pearl or sapphire, it can be a antique band.
  • Ask the family, is your great grandmother’s ring sitting unused in someone’s jewelry box?

Let this be the first place that you and your future partner question the often-unrealistic expectations of our society.  Whether you decide to spend $100 or $25,000, buy a ring that you can afford and one that fits you new life.

So You Want to be an Entrepreneur?

If you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, small business owner or even a key employee who cares about the growth of the company you work for, you should be reading Seth Godin. Like, I mean everything you can get your hands on. Read his books, his blog, his interviews and watch his Ted talks like this one. 

Godin has a ton of real world, right now, business stuff figured out and he has a special gift of being able to tell you about it in a very few words.

This is a recent blog of Godin’s. If you will take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer the questions he asks in this 313 word essay you will gain more insight into your new business venture than if you read any 3 of the best  “How to Start and Run Your New Business” books.

Questions for a new entrepreneur

A few things came up over coffee the other day. His idea is good, his funding is solid; there are many choices. Some of the questions that don’t usually get asked:

Are you aware of your cash flow? The thing about a fish in the stream is that it doesn’t care if the water is six inches deep or a foot deep. As long as it never (ever) goes to zero; it’s fine. What’s your zero point? What are you doing to ensure you get to keep on swimming?

Are you trying to build profit or equity? A business that builds a brand, a footprint, a standard and an audience might end up being worth millions (witness Tumblr, which has many millions in value but zero profitability). On the other hand, a business with no exit value at all might spin off plenty of profit (consider the local doctor’s office). It would be great if you could simultaneously maximize both the value of your company and the profit it produces (in the short run) – but that’s unlikely.

What’s your role? Do you want to be a freelancer, an entrepreneur or a business owner? A business owner is the boss, but it’s a job, a place that is stable and profitable. An entrepreneur is an artist of sorts, throwing herself into impossible situations and seeking out problems that require heart and guts to solve. Both are fine, but choose.

Are you trying to build a team? Some business owners want to minimize cost and hassle. Others are trying to forge a culture, to train and connect and lead.

Which kind of risk is okay with you? There’s financial risk, emotional risk and brand risk (among others). Are you willing to put your chips on the table daily? How about your personal reputation?

And finally, and most important, why? Why are you doing this at all?

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur or small business owner, you need to move faster, work smarter and latch on to people that can help you figure out what you should be doing next. Seth Godin is definitely one of those people.

Greed or Ambition?

There are many very successful business owners and CEO’s that take great pride not only in the product or service they sell, but also in the relationship they have with their employees. They genuinely care that their employees make a living wage and have opportunities for education and advancement.

They understand the difference between greed and ambition.

Unfortunately many do not understand that distinction. In a great economy the greedy may fail to attract and keep great employees; but in this economy many employees feel grateful to have any job – even while they feel a building resentment toward their greedy bosses.

So, what’s the difference between greed and ambition and how can you tell when you have crossed the line?

Here is a simple test:

If you are driving a car that cost three times your lowest paid employees annual wage (or spend a similar sum on a different luxury), can you meet this criteria?

My lowest paid employee is paid well enough to house, feed and provide health coverage for all of his/her family members.

My lowest paid employees are given opportunities for education and growth.

My full time employees do not qualify for aid. Their kids don’t get free lunch or have Medicaid or state subsidized insurance, the family does not need food stamps or subsidized housing.

My college educated employees are paid a wage high enough to allow them to repay their student loans.

The ugly truth is some businesses have used the poor economy as an excuse to exploit their workforce. They have cut hours and/or cut staff and imposed long unpaid overtime hours on salaried staff. They have frozen wages and cut benefits. The businesses have done these things not because it is an economic necessity but because they can.

These misguided company leaders underestimate the power of an engaged and motivated workforce. They are failing to invest in their company’s’ most important asset, and it will affect their future growth.

Even more disturbing is the fact that these potential community leaders have no ability to demonstrate consideration and compassion even for those that work for them.

If you struggle with greed cut out the quote below and tape it to the edge of that $80K rear view mirror.

Do to others as you would have them do to you Luke 6:31

Will Obama Save You?

Obama’s “new” student loan plan is a modification of the existing Income-Based Repayment Plan   for Student Loans. Instead of setting monthly payments at the current 15% of discretionary income, the new plan sets payments at 10%. If you qualify, this change may significantly reduce your monthly payments. The new plan should be available in January 2012.

To get an idea of what your payments would be, use this calculator for the old 15% plan here

Also, the forgiveness timetable in Obama’s plan is shortened from 25 years to 20. Additionally, the plan also offers borrowers who have a loan from the Federal Family Education Loan Program and a direct loan from the government to consolidate them at an interest rate of up to a half percentage point less.

If you are currently under employed (or over indebted) and struggling to make your student loan payments, this may help keep you out of default (which you should be doing everything possible to avoid). The 10% will be recalculated each year and as your income increases so will your payments. However, if you should remain  under paid relative to your student loan debt for 20 years (oh my, we certainly hope not) and faithfully make you payments, any unpaid balance will be forgiven.

This plan is not available to those who are already in default (Another important reason to do everything possible to stay out of default).

Your monthly payment will be lowered by extending the term of your loan. As we know, extending the term on a loan increases the amount of interest we will pay over the life of the loan. But this plan has an important escape. If after making twenty years of payments (again, I hope not – as it would probably mean you have never reached your employment potential) your loans are not paid off, the remaining balance will be forgiven.

Like with any other loan, you should pay as much as you can as fast as you can.

Here are a few real life examples:

Bill has a MBA from a good school and student loans of $85,000. He is unmarried and has been fortunate in this economy to land a job paying $60,000 a year. His loan payments under the normal 10 year payment plan would be about $978 a month. Under the current 15% Income based repayment plan, his payments would be about $545 and under Obama’s new plan $363 per month.

On the old plan if your monthly payment amount did not cover the interest that accrued each month, the government paid the unpaid accrued interest on only Subsidized Stafford Loans and only for up to three consecutive years. I expect the new plan to work the same, forgiving interest only on subsidized loans, but those details are not yet available.

For Bill, the 6.8% interest for the first three years will exceed $363 a month but all of his loans are not subsidized. For those loans that are not subsidized the interest will accrue; in other words the balance owed on those unsecured loans will continue to increase.

The longer you pay on the loan the more you will pay.

 Ann is a teacher with an income of $42,000, student loans of $55,000 and two children. Her 15% Income-Based plan puts her monthly payment at $180 a month as opposed to the $632 on a ten-year plan. The new 10% plan should drop the payments down to about $120. Since Ann works in the public sector as a teacher, her balance could be forgiven after ten years if she makes her payments for that period.

The “pay as you earn” plan can offer some real relief to those who have or will graduate with a bunch of student loan debt and inadequate income to make their loan payments.  As with all debt, BE VERY CAREFUL to understand all the rules BEFORE you agree to a new payment plan or consolidation. This stuff is incredibly complicated and it is easy to screw it up.

A call to the Federal Student Aid Center revealed that they have not yet been notified how the 10% plan will work, for example will existing 15% plans be convertible to 10% plans? This document answers many questions on the current plan but we’ll have to check back at a later date for more detailed information on the new plan.


Crash, Cope or Change

When it comes to managing anxiety or stress during difficult times many of us have developed a huge trunk full of coping skills. We can take a walk, drink a beer, call a friend, turn up the music, write in our journal, pray or eat chocolate – sometime lots of chocolate.

Some of these strategies work better than others and some have unwanted side effects; but it is important to understand that even our most trusted strategy only provides temporary relief of the symptom and does nothing to solve the underlying problem.

If the stress is temporary, choosing to handle it with a coping strategy is reasonable. However, using coping mechanisms to avoid the needed change can be very destructive.

Take for example my friend Kate. Kate brings home $560 a week. Kate’s obligations total $595 a week. Dear Kate is strong, she has excellent coping skills, and she manages the stress of never being current on her bills really well, almost all of the time.  Every once in a while things stack up and Kate starts feeling hopeless. She often chooses this time to vent to a friend. She sometimes even asks for advice when she is feeling this way but in her condition, she can’t hear the recommendations given.

Kate’s coping skills are over-developed. In a lot of ways she would be much better off if she just crashed. Crashing is all about humility. Humility is NOT about weakness, it’s about open mindedness.

Sometimes it takes the repo’ ed car to bring about the humility necessary for a person to change their money behavior. Sometimes all it takes to “crash” is to hear the right words at the right time.

We’ve all resisted the hearing of the truth about something. Maybe it is/was a bad relationship we just couldn’t let go of or the fact that our career path has led to a dead end or that we are destroying our tomorrows by living beyond our means today.

Whatever your unheard truth is, maybe today is the day to let go of your coping mechanism and really look at the underlying problem. Pray for the strength and humility required for change.