Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. —Albert Einstein.
Einstein was a smart guy, and he knew the importance of something that we are terrible at today: How to focus on one thing at a time.
Today, let me know in comment: Right now, what’s your #1 financial goal?
If you’re not sure, I’ve created a new workbook to help you figure this out. It’s totally free to email subscribers. You can learn more below or sign up now.
We are the “do-it-all” generation. And unfortunately, all this multi-tasking does us a disservice.
For one, it’s difficult to do any one thing well when doing many things at once. (Be a good kisser or drive off the road—your choice).
Even worse, focusing on too many goals at once can mean we don’t get any of them done. This problem is made worse if any of these goals conflict with one another.
The book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength points to research by psychologists Robert Emmons and Laura King that identified three main consequences of conflicting goals:
First, you worry a lot. The more competing demands you face, the more time you spend contemplating those demands. You’re best by rumination: repetitive thoughts that are largely involuntary and not especially pleasant.
Second, you get less done. It might seem that people who think more about their goals would also take more steps to reach them, but instead they replace action with rumination. The researchers found that people with clear, unconflicting goals tended to forge ahead and make progress, but the rest were so busy worrying that they got stuck.
Third, your health suffers, physically as well as mentally. In the studies, people with conflicting goals reported fewer positive emotions, more negative emotions, and more depression and anxiety. They had more psychosomatic complains and symptoms. Even just plain physical sickness, measured by both by the number of visits to the doctor and the number of self-reported illnesses over the course of the year, was higher among the people with conflicting goals.
The first takeaway from this research is that your goals should be in harmony. But a subtext is that it doesn’t hurt to focus on one thing at a time.
Over the years I’ve given some advice about how to set and prioritize financial goals that advocates targeting multiple things at once. For example, I commonly suggest that you should contribute a small amount to a 401(k) if your employer matches those contributions even as you try to get out of credit card debt.
After recent conversations with readers and some books I’ve read, I am starting to recommend people focus on one financial goal at a time.
To help you determine just what that goal should be, I’ve created a 5-day program designed to help you reflect on your beliefs and values, identify financial problem areas, transform dreams into financial action items, and prioritize your goals so you can attack one at a time.
INTRODUCING ‘RICHER BY THE WEEK’
Richer by the Week: A Simple 5-Day Plan to Take Control of Your Money and Your Life is a 5-day program I’ve designed to help you do two things:
- Stop wasting time on the wrong goals and focus your energy on the one thing that’s important now.
- Stop dreaming and start doing. (Get off your ass.)
Richer By The Week is a workbook that you’ll use for about twenty minutes a day for five days.
- The first two days you will spend aligning your financial goals with your values (not somebody else’s).
- On day three, you’ll take concrete steps to simplify and automate your finances.
- On days four and five you’ll work on choosing the one goal to focus on. Then you’ll get to work on it.
Anybody can write a bunch of goals. But you have to be sure they are the right goals. And then you have to get things done. In this workbook, I’ll help you do both.
Get my five-day course on crushing your goals here:
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PS: After you go through the workbook, let me know your #1 financial goal in a comment.
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