Featured Blog: The Reason Why You Fail to Achieve Financial Goals

The following blog is by Kali Hawlk originally published in her blog Common Sense Millennial.

Happy Wednesday, Common Sensers!

I spent last weekend in New Orleans hanging out with fellow financial bloggers, professionals, and nerds at the conference the money media world waits all year for: #FinCon14. (Stop by my Instagram account to check out a few photos from the event.) I was able to meet amazing people, hang out with blogging buddies I can now call IRL friends (told you we’re nerds), and came home feeling crazy inspired and full of ideas.

I mention the FinCon Expo not because you particularly care about an industry event I attended over the weekend, but because I also came home with an important lesson about goals, and why we fail to achieve them.

How I Failed to Meet My Goal

Like I said, FinCon is an industry event — and I happen to run a business in the same industry. This would obviously be a prime opportunity to do some serious networking to pick up new clients, new work, and new ways to boost my biz.

Before I left, I set a goal of getting out of my shell and doing some networking. I printed out a massive number of business cards… that are already outdated, as they direct recipients to kalihawlk.com which in turn redirects them to the new business site. Adventures in solopreneurship! Always a lesson to be learned, right?

[Editor’s Note, Oct 24th 2014: I continued tinkering with my online presence and now have even more clarity surrounding my business goals. I actually get very little business from Internet passerby on my sites — most people are referred to me. Because of this, I’ve reinstated KaliHawlk.com as the placeholder for my professional work and I’m currently in the process of relaunching HawlksNestMedia.com into something I’ve been wanting to pursue for a while. All that to say, my business cards are actually NOT that outdated. Keeping up? I’m not sure I am!]

Anyway, it’s safe to say I was completely unprepared beyond my business cards. I’ve never been to a conference before; never even been to a regular ol’ networking event. I didn’t have an elevator pitch and I hadn’t practiced talking about myself or what I do.

So when the “freelancer’s marketplace” event rolled around, where companies were there to network with individuals looking for gigs, I promptly freaked out, panicked, and got out of there as fast as I could. (But not before someone asked me about myself and in my freak-out mode I just held up my conference tag that had my name and blog name on it and just said, “This.”)

Thankfully, that did not set the tone of the rest of the weekend for me. I got more and more comfortable being out and about and talking about myself as the weekend went on, but I also decided to call it early on the networking goal. I rerouted and focused on getting value out of the fact that I could hang out with lots of people I already work with and for, as well as spending time with people I was super excited to meet like the amazing ReadyForZeroteam.

(And as it turns out, these more “natural” settings — just hanging out with people I counted as friends — provided far better networking opportunities for me than the organized sessions.)

Goals Are Important! But They Can’t Stand Alone

But why did this happen? Why did I fail so spectacularly at my one original goal that I brought with me to the conference?

I have a thriving business and I was so excited to hand out those beautiful business cards I created. So why couldn’t I manage it at the best opportunity for networking in the financial media industry?

Because I wasn’t motivated.

I wasn’t able to push outside my comfort zone because I didn’t have to. My business is thriving, I love the people and clients I currently have and the work I do for them, and I was much more interested in spending time with people I had already begun to develop relationships with online so I could foster those connections in real life than to try and schmooze with potential sources of new work.

I completely lacked the motivation to do something that I found difficult. Although identifying a goal was a great start, it was only a first step. I should have completed setting my goal by doing what Mary Beth Storjohann from Workable Wealth calls “finding your why.”

Your why is your motivation, and lacking this key element causes you to miss the mark on accomplishing goals.

The Reason You Fail to Achieve Financial Goals: A Lack of Motivation

This story revolved around my business, but the lesson learned directly translates to money.

The reason I failed in my networking goal is the same reason anyone fails with a financial goal. The same thing happens with your money and the goals you set around personal finances.

Without motivation, or an understanding of why you’re working towards achieving something, you’ll find it difficult to actually accomplish.

Your motivation can be anything. It’s whatever makes you so freakin’ excited you can’t stop thinking about it. It’s whatever you want to talk about nonstop. It’s what drives you forward and it’s what you’d be willing to sacrifice a lot for — whether that sacrifice is intangible like your comfort if you have to push outside that zone or tangible like giving up shopping sprees and new gadgets.

Understanding your motivation is critical in achieving your financial goals. It’s the reason why you must set your goals for you, not for anyone else or because someone told you that you should.

Motivation is internal and you’re the only person who can find and identify your own.

Using Motivation the Right Way

Let’s not kid ourselves here. Finding and keeping your motivation is hard. Make it a little easier for yourself by trying the following to help you achieve financial goals:

Realize that Maintaining Your Drive Takes Work!

  • Understand that keeping yourself motivated is a process. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it deal. You must continuously work to find that spark that drives to on to the next step of your journey.
  • Appreciate all those steps in that journey! Financial goals take a lot of time and effort. Expect to hang in for the long haul.
  • It is tough work, so look for help. Find a friend or group to help keep you accountable and to remind you of why you’re working so hard whenever you lose sight of your mission and motivation.
  • Try new approaches, too. If you find one thing isn’t working or leaves you completely stressed and frustrated, try a different tactic or method.

Make Your Motivation Easier to Keep In Mind

  • Write down the reasons you’re working toward your goals. Pull them out whenever you feel your motivation start to flag.
  • Visualize what you want. You might print off a picture of a great travel destination, or a photo of the kind of home you want to save up a down payment for. Or you could write a note to yourself that says something positive about your goal or why you’re working towards it.
  • Keep your visual reminder somewhere you see it every day.
  • Find a quote or develop a mantra that really speaks to you. When I was working on launching my biz full time and trying to get to the point where I could quit my day job and become self-employed, mine was: “By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it.” It’s even my current Twitter header so that the whole world knows what keeps me motivated!

Remember to Keep Up with Your Hard Work

  • Break down goals into bite-size pieces so a big financial project doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
  • Track your progress so you can always see how far you’ve come and appreciate where you are right now.
  • Celebrate small victories.

Keep up your motivation when working towards your big financial goals, and you’re much more likely to succeed.

Have you ever failed to achieve a goal because you lacked the motivation? How do you maintain that motivation once you find and identify it?


About the author: Kali Hawlk is a financial writer who is passionate about helping Millennials learn more about money. She also works as a content marketing manager for financial professionals to help advisors and planners build better businesses and brands online. Kali is a contributor to Clark Howard, The Huffington Post, ReadyForZero, Magnify Money, and FeeX. She’s also been featured on and quoted in Forbes, US News and World Report, and AOL’s Daily Finance. To learn more and get in touch, please visit http://kalihawlk.com



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