If you’ve ever reached a significant financial goal, congratulations! Maybe you saved an emergency fund, paid off a loan, or earned a promotion. Or you paid for a vacation or holiday gifts in cash. Feels great, doesn’t it?
But if you’re anything like us, you might find yourself floundering in the wake of your victory. The laser-focus that directed your progress can vanish once the finish line is behind you. Perhaps you loosened the reins on your spending, or even celebrated a bit too lavishly. Or rushed right into the next goal without recovery time, feeling burnt out and unmotivated. Here are some ideas for transitioning between goals successfully.
- Plan your celebration. Don’t let goal celebration week turn into month or quarter of pricey festivities. Choose one or two special ways to celebrate and determine approximately what they’ll cost. Dreaming about this reward ahead of time can be a great way to stay motivated. Of course, you can plan some free ways to mark the occasion, as well.
- Update your budget. Pull out that spreadsheet and update your numbers. We don’t fuss over a monthly budget much, but it’s important to plan for major changes to your income or expenses. Do so ahead of time if possible. Otherwise you stand the risk of letting that “extra” disappear if it’s unaccounted for. Updating your budget also lets you know exactly what you’re working with for your next goal.
- Set your next goal. I know it sounds obvious, but it can be hard to think past your current goal when you’ve got gazelle-like intensity. Or maybe you have too many goals in mind to choose from. Make a list, order them by importance, and record the dollar amounts each might require—total, and monthly. Refer back to your budget and decide which or how many goals to queue up.
After purchasing our home and paying off our student loans, we coasted for about a year without much financial direction. Fortunately we maintained the basics like saving, giving, and investing, but I wonder what we could have achieved with a clearer goal in mind.
- Expect some extra expenses. While pressing toward your goal, you may have deferred some spending. Maybe it’s home maintenance, a car repair, or replacing worn clothing or furniture. Saving for special purposes like your next vehicle or vacation may also need renewed attention. It’s fine to delay certain expenses until you meet your goal, but don’t be surprised if you have some catching up to do. Try listing these expenses before and/or after meeting your goal. Warning: catching up can be a let-down. Costs like replacing an old toilet or getting new tires can feel pretty boring after you’ve reached a lofty goal, but that’s just life. #adulting
- Give yourself some time off. This might sound dangerous, but you could feel defeated if your first couple months of extra income or lower expenses leaves you feeling broke. The cost of celebrating plus catching up on delayed spending can add up. That doesn’t mean you’re failing. If you need a month or two to recover before striving for the next finish line, go ahead! Just return to your routine spending habits after your recovery period and your budget will normalize.
- Remember what you’ve accomplished. The goal that once felt so significant might start to seem small in hindsight. Don’t take for granted that you accomplished something big for you. Be encouraged by your goal-setting success and let that spur you toward your next victory.
If you’ve already met a goal and are struggling to get your bearings, it’s not too late to take the steps above. Give yourself grace, remember your success, and get excited for your next goal. You can do it!
Have you ever lost motivation after reaching a goal? How did you get back on course?