writing-examsYou’ve probably already made some resolutions for the new year about being better at managing your money. You want to pay off your debt, spend less money and save more. You think you might even begin that retirement plan and learn to invest! But if you’re anything like most people, you’ll already be off track by the end of January. That’s because you may have good intentions but you aren’t really treating the true cause of your financial mismanagement. But don’t worry too much, some smart behavioural experts say there are ways, some mind tricks, which can help you not only set your financial goals for 2017 - but achieve them. Don't think too big Start with small goals so that you can build your confidence. Seeing the progress you’re making will help you to make more difficult goals and reach them. It’s the small steps toward your goals which can lead to bigger results as it’s unlikely that changes to your behaviour will stick if you take massive leaps. Think about it this way. You won’t be able to run a marathon without doing any training. So, why do you think you can immediately become amazing at managing your money? Rather make one simple financial goal to start. Try reading at least two investment articles for beginners each week. Consider saving a certain amount each month or earning an extra R500. that’s a small step but could soon lead to major progress. Picture your goals There’s much research which shows that writing down your goals and thinking about them every day can lead to success. Consider writing them on a post-it and sticking that near your desk or on your mirror. By keeping those goals top of mind, you’ll be less likely to waste money and instead funnel cash into a savings account. Think about the specific details of your goal, how much you’d love to own your own business or why you want to retire while you’re young, and it will become more realistic. Also, remember to keep your goals close to you in ways which you can appreciate them. Some people prefer a written reminder, others a photo and some even as a sound. Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker says: “Now if you choose not to set them, you’ve got to understand that the consequences are not going to be good down the road. For twenty-four years I was “going to lose that weight.” As a matter of fact, In twenty-four years I lost several thousand pounds of weight. How many of you already know exactly what I’m talking about? But it wasn’t until I 1) Wrote it down, 2) Put a date on it, 3) Listed the obstacles I had to overcome, 4) Identified the people, the groups, the organizations I needed to work with, 5) Spelled out a plan of action, 6) Set that time limit in there, 7) And identified all of the benefits to me It was only when I did that, That the goal became a reality, And I lost the weight.” Imagine your future self Studies have found that when you imagine yourself as an older person, you’ll be more likely to save for your retirement. Says the Harvard Business Review: “Subjects exposed to aged avatars put nearly twice as much money into the retirement fund as the other people. Later we had some people see the older avatars of other subjects to test if that affected their choices, but it didn’t. Only those who saw their own future selves were more likely to favor long-term rewards.” Thinking about the future tends to be associated with increased savings balances, better money management habits and less financial anxiety. Remind yourself There’s no point setting goals if you aren’t going to remember it. Find ways to remind yourself in a few weeks, months and even years. This could include writing down reminders in your diary or calendar, setting reminders on your phone or even stick a note near your front door. Thinking positively Remember, you're not only depriving yourself now. You’re also taking care of your future self. When you think about your investments in those terms, you’ll be far more likely to happily see those debit orders go off your bank about and into your retirement accounts each month. Image: Pexels