I have a hard time thinking of the big picture plan. I just can’t wrap my head around goals like, “I’m going to learn how to drive” or “I’m going to have X amount of money by the time I’m Z years old”. Funny right? We have a master plan after all – how do I expect to get there if I cannot plan for the big picture?
Instead, I like to break my big goals into little goals that fit inside my head. We’ve done this for a few things already this year.
We have wanted to switch our mutual funds to ETFs for a while now. We own mutual funds at BMO and while they have performed reasonably well (5-7% return), after the 2.2% MER, it’s not looking so great. So we’ve decided to move our RRSPs to Questrade and invest it in a self directed ETF portfolio. It’s the type of goal I hate though because it involves… paperwork. And Dealing With People. And… paperwork. So we broke it down into smaller actions.
This is one of those all encompassing goals that most people will not stick with – after all, what does “eating more healthy” really mean? But taking care of our health is important to us, so like the ETF investing plan, we’ve broken it down into smaller goals that we tackle over time. I’ll note that just by doing #1 and #2, we easily stick to our monthly grocery budget AND eat very well.
It would be super hard for me to say, cut out white rice entirely. I love white rice! But it’s completely doable for me to mix in a cup of brown rice into my bag of white rice. I barely even notice the difference and I’m eating slightly healthier without any extra effort. It’s a small action but it gets me closer to my goal than if I had set a big, unrealistic goal.
Those are just two examples of the ways we break down our big picture goals. And when you have small goals, it’s easier to stick with them and not become discouraged when you are not perfect. It took me a good 2 years before I ate fruit regularly. After Brian and I moved in together, it took another year to get him eating fruit regularly. Then it took a year to slowly ramp up our vegetable intake. With our finances, we talked about ETFs for a good 6 months before we finally decided how we wanted to proceed. Then we had to slowly save money and try to figure out where we would hold our ETFs. And so on and so forth.
The point is, it is easy to become discouraged and overwhelmed when faced with a task to accomplish, no matter how much you might want to succeed. Instead of focusing on the end goal, focus on the smaller, less intimidating near term goals. These little goals will get you incrementally closer to where you want to be while (hopefully!) maintaining your confidence and motivation.