While New Year’s resolutions often don’t last, this is a great time to be thinking about goals. Specifically, financial goals.

No business in the world would consider going into a year – or even into a quarter – without goals. Why shouldn’t your personal finances benefit from the same type of organization? Your own financial success is at least as important to you as the success of a company is to an executive. And since studies have shown that those who set specific, tangible goals are more likely to meet them than those who approach their lives with a “well, let’s see where this goes” attitude, the time and effort invested in setting a financial goal for yourself is well worth it.

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So where do you want to be?

Take a quiet hour or two to write out your financial vision. Do you want to have a specific amount saved? For what purpose? Do you want to start your own business on the side? Become completely debt-free? Pay off the mortgage early? Take an early retirement? Remodel your home? Build an investment portfolio? Become a major supporter of your favorite charity? Go back to school and finish that degree? Have enough money so that work becomes a hobby and not a necessity?

Don’t limit yourself to what you think you can do. Give yourself the freedom to dream, to come up with your ideal financial scenario. And here’s an important tip: Write it as if it’s already in existence. Then put your ideas aside for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes and see what you’ve written. While it may not be completely realistic, chances are, you can find one solid goal that will bring you closer to your ideal financial scenario.

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Set that as a goal for the coming year. It might be something small, such as putting 10% of your paycheck toward debt payments, and another 2% toward savings. But if you stick with it, your debt will eventually be paid off and you’ll have 12% to put toward savings. A small step? Sure. But there’s no telling where one small step in the right direction will take you.

Your personal finance is in your own hands. No one else can take responsibility for it. It’s a new year, the chance for a fresh start. Make it a successful one.

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