Over the course of my life, I have had periods where I was able to accomplish a great deal, more than I imagined, and other times where I felt as if I accomplished very little.  For me, what often makes the difference is writing down my goals.  Because we have debt to pay off and we want to do it in a short period, we have turned to goal setting to get it paid off faster.

How to Set Goals

Write them down.  It is one thing to have general goals in your mind, but quite another to have them written down on paper.  Just the act of writing them down makes them more tangible.  You have taken them from random thoughts in your mind to something concrete on paper.

Include a Target Date.  In addition to writing down your goals, include the date when you would like to accomplish them.  This gives you a timeline to work with that can help fuel your behavior.

Include How You Will Accomplish Your Goals.  It is not enough to simply write down your goals and a target date.  You must write down the specific steps you will take.  In our case, one of the steps looks something like this—sell all of our clutter on eBay, Craigslist and at a garage sale.  The winter clutter should be sold by the end of November.  All money generated will be snowflaked on our debt.

Display them prominently.  Put your goals somewhere you can see them several times a day.  This can be a powerful reminder.  We not only have written down how quickly we want to pay it all off, we have a chart that shows exactly when each debt will be paid off based on our standard monthly payment.  As we snowflake money and lower the balances more quickly, we update the chart monthly and watch the projected date we are to be debt free move closer and closer thanks to our extra effort.  That is motivational!

Aim for the extreme.  Many experts recommend small, tangible goals, but because we have larger plans in our financial future such as buying a house and a replacement vehicle within the next five years, we have set a big, hairy audacious goal—pay off $20,316.63 of credit card debt in 12 months.  Considering we have a gross income of little more than double that amount, it seems ridiculous to believe we can accomplish this goal.  Yet because it is so extreme, it motivates us more.  Any extra money that comes to us is applied to the debt, and we have become more creative about ways to make money just so we can accomplish this goal.

The strategy appears to be working.  In the 18 days since we agreed to our big, hairy audacious goal, we paid down $1,402.12, bringing our balance to $18,914.51.  That equates to $77.89 applied to the principal of our debt every day.

If you find yourself mired in debt, take the time to write down your goals and set concrete steps and a firm time line for when you plan to be debt free.  Don’t be afraid to set a big, hairy audacious goal.  You may surprise yourself and find that with drive and motivation, you can be debt free more quickly than you think possible.