Use this 10-step process to achieve your 2020 goals

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The post offers a simple 10 step process to achieve your 2020 goals.

One of the most challenging aspects of trading is the fact that it is, for the most part, a solitary journey. That can be quite liberating in some respects but in other respects make things quite difficult. The aspiring trader must figure out ways to improve on his or her own. Most people are not really used to doing that in a systematic way. This 10 step process guides you through the goal setting process and provides a systematic path for achieving them.

If you are looking for ideas to improve your trading next year, I recently I posted “14 Actionable ideas to dramatically improve your trading in 2020”.  You can find the post HERE

Once you have several goals you are considering, begin by reviewing the 10 step process. Once you’ve committed to your goals, use this process as a roadmap throughout the year.  If you do, you’ll be much more apt to accomplish them.

1. Identify, then prioritize your goals

Back when I had my small business, I usually provided clients with a year-end recap with goals for the coming year. One time, I provided my top client a presentation that included about 15 goals for the coming year.  When I asked the client for feedback, he told me he’d be thrilled if I accomplished 3 of my 15 goals.   His point being of course that while my list was laudable for it’s length, it was not focused nor was it realistically achievable. We often do the same thing.   Take your laundry list of goals and distill them down to a prioritized list. Identify the big opportunities. Identify the things you really are committed to working on.  Understand that you only have so much bandwidth.  A large and unfocused list of goals will often result in nothing getting done because you’re overwhelmed.   Keep your list relatively small and highly focused.  Nothing says you can’t create a new list in June if you get everything done ahead of schedule.

2. Write it down

Write down your goals and display them in a prominent position on your desk. Seeing those goals all day keeps them at the top of mind and therefore are much more apt to continue holding your attention and action. Don’t skip this step.  If you do, your chances for failure greatly increase.

3. Be specific

Vague, fuzzy goals are of little value. To be effective, your goals need to be as specific as possible. For example: “I want to improve my fitness in 2020″  becomes ” I will walk 2 miles everyday”.  The first goal is so vague, it’s almost meaningless.  The second is specific.

4. Make it measurable

What gets measured, gets done. It’s almost a law of nature.  If your goals are able to adhere to concrete criteria, you are able to measure progress towards their achievement. Keeping with the example above, you could attach a speed component to your goal. For instance ” I want to be able to walk 2 miles in under 30 min.”   You can track your times each day and plot them on a graph. You’ll be able to track your path to improved physical fitness in a tangible way.

5. Set Milestones

Beginning a long, tough journey is often daunting and overwhelming. Setting intermediate milestones is a great way to break down the goal into bite-sized steps.  These milestones are markers along your path towards achieving the goal. Crossing these milestones will boost your morale and sense of accomplishment which should inspire you to keep pushing.

6. Be Realistic

Nothing demotivates more than failing to achieve something you set out to do. When contemplating a goal, try to hit the sweet spot between a sandbagged goal and an impossible one. A key part of that is honestly asking yourself if your goal represents an objective in which you are willing and able to work towards. You are the only one that can determine just how substantial your goal should be.  For me, I’d rather accomplish a moderately less aggressive goal than to fail at a much loftier one.

7. Set a deadline

Every set goal should be grounded within a time frame. Without a time frame, there is no sense of urgency. Make a tentative plan of everything you do and the time in which you want to do it. Instilling deadlines will help you and your team work towards them, creating motivation that can keep morale high. However, creating time frames can be a tricky and sensitive task. On the one hand, being too stringent on the timely aspect of goal setting can motivate, but it can also have the opposite effect, demotivating if you aren’t ticking the boxes on schedule.

8. Boost Accountability

Accountability is a key facet of the achievement matrix. Telling your family and fellow traders your goals helps to instill accountability.  It enables them to be supportive of your efforts when things get tough and challenge you when you slack off.  I think a great way to do this in practical terms is to find a trading buddy to work with.  Exchange your goals and work together to hold each other accountable.

9. Ask for help

Somewhere along the way and for some unknown reason, asking for help became perceived as a sign of personal weakness. In actuality, nothing could be farther from the truth. Asking for help is a sign of true power and confidence. Only an idiot would continue to flounder at a given task without asking for assistance. Additionally you will find many people are willing to help you if you ask them. We all struggle from time to time. We hit dead ends and roadblocks. A set of fresh eyes can make all the difference in helping you circumvent the roadblocks you’ll inevitably hit. So the bottom line is this. If you get stuck or your progress stalls, ask someone to take a look and give you a hand. You’ll be so glad you did.

10. Continuously assess your progress

At least 4 times a year, sit down and make an assessment of where you’re at on your goals.  During this process, don’t be afraid to make a mid-cycle adjustment when life happens, circumstances change, or priorities shift.  Make your goals work for you.  If you regularly assess your progress, good things will happen for you. One thing for certain, you will not be surprised at the end of the year.

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