Setting Goals and tracking them over time is a key way to achieve success.   One of the best articles on goal setting actually comes from a weight loss/fitness book by Tom Venuto, The Body Fat Solution: Five Principles for Burning Fat, Building Lean Muscle, Ending Emotional Eating,and Maintaining Your Perfect Weight.  (Read the first chapter for free here).

I’ve written before about the importance of setting SMART goals, and Tom takes that a step further in his excellent book.  (Haven’t started the workouts yet – so I’ll let you know if it’s a good fitness book or not).

Here are  some key points on Goal Setting:

Goal Setting Works

  1. Make them Specific and Measurable.  When you set a goal, your unconscious mind goes to work to find solutions for what you asked for.  Specific goals are critical to allow your goal setting machine to get to work.  In one of the all time great books on Personal Development, “The New Psycho-Cybernetics”, Dr Maxwell Maltz said this:“…your brain and nervous system constitute a goal-striving mechanism which operates automatically to achieve your goal, very much as a self-aiming torpedo or missile seeks out its target and steers its way to it”.
  2. Make your Goals achievable, but not simple.  Make sure you won’t achieve your goal just by waking up in the morning, but make sure they are big enough that they scare you a little bit, as in “How am I going to get that done?”  This unknown forces your sub-conscious mind into action to find solutions for you.
  3. Put a deadline on your goals.  A deadline forces your subconscious into action.  If you were like me, you did your best term paper writing at midnight the night before it was due.  Deadlines lead to results.
  4. Discover your Why.  Simon Sinek did one of my favorite TED talks about the importance of clarifying why a goal is important to you.  Once you are clear on the “Why”, the How becomes easy.
  5. Write them Down.  Something about writing down goals makes them happen – maybe because the effort to write down goals convinces our self conscious that we are serious.  When you write down your goals, you are moving from hopes and dreams to reality.
  6. Repeat.  Review your goals on a regular basis – preferable 1-2 times a day.  Most Goal Achieving Guru’s will say upon first waking up and before going to bed.  I tend to agree with that, but even if you don’t review your goals twice a day in fixed intervals, figure out some way to remind yourself on a regular basis what you set out to accomplish.  This is similar to writing your goals down.  When you repeat your goals, you once again tell your “Goal Striving Mechanism” that you are serious and this goal is to be accomplished.

You can set goals for any area of your life.  In the context of “Start with the House”, goal setting is critical to allow you to accomplish what you want to get done in your home and with your finances.  As Tom Venuto points out in his book, goal setting is critical to reach fitness and fat loss goals.

At the start of a new year, it’s a great time to grab a few minutes by yourself and write down what you want to accomplish this year.  Review the list regularly, and by the end of the year, you will be surprised at how much you accomplished – try it out!


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If you did just one thing to get ahead financially what would it be?

Cash House

For me, the most importantthing is cash.  That’s right, old fashioned cash – well, not really, but something just like cash.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a few thousand dollars laying around the house, but it’s critical to have ready access to it.

Before you pay off debt, buy someone a gift they don’t really want, or buy a penny stock that someone told you about – make sure you have some money readily available.


Not enough people have an emergency fund, but, it is one of the most important things you can do to get ahead.  Think of an emergency fund as a strong defense.  Offense is always flashy – like a long pass, a home run or 3 pointer, and so is talking about making 20% on a stock, but defense wins championships.


Cash in the bank is a goal line stance that will win you a championship.

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At the start of 2013, it’s (let’s be honest here) time to make some resolutions that we can break, OK?

Resolutions you might break:

  • Eat Healthier
  • Go to bed on time and wake up earlier
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise more
What other Resolutions do you plan on breaking this year?
At, there are a few financial principles, not resolutions, that are useful to review at the beginning of each year.  In order, here are the universal financial priorities that we teach:
  1. Create an Emergency Fund
  2. Eliminate bad debt (Credit Cards mostly)
  3. Protect what you have with proper insurance
  4. Save for future goals
  5. Pay off your mortgage

Doing any of these items in the wrong order can lead to chaos and financial trouble.  For example, if you were to lose your job, would you rather have an emergency fund or retirement savings that you can’t access?

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Year End Planning

So, did you get everything done that you had on your list at the beginning of the year?  Hopefully “Yes” for vacations and other fun stuff, and hopefully “Yes” for important stuff, like checking your life insurance needs or refinancing your mortgage.  Most likely, if you reviewed a list of what you wanted to do over the […]

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Saving or Investing?

I came across a great four page booklet from the North Dakota State University on Saving or Investing.  Many think that saving and investing are the same thing, but, there are important differences. First of, why North Dakota?  Isn’t it freezing there?  Actually, I just checked, and the temperature right now is only 7 degrees cooler than here in […]

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