Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 19, 2013
Could you save an average of $4000 a month for an entire year? In effect, that was my goal for 2013 when I set a target of $48,000 in contributions. Yet given we had plans for our month long vacation and my wife’s trip back out to Gander, NL to see her baby niece it was bound to be a significant challenge to achieve that goal.
Yet now that there are only a few days left in the month I can say I’m so close to making it that I can smell it. Yet I confess that I might end up just a little bit short, I’m not 100% sure yet. The last $500 or so might not actually happen. So let’s assume for the moment I do miss that last $500, what happens?
Not much of anything to be honest. The goal was entirely just based on my estimated cash flows for the year, so the reality is if I miss it by $500 or 1% I’m not really freaking out. After all trying to hit that precise of a target that far out with so much variability in life, I could live with failure if that is what it looks like.
You see some goals are precise and have no grey zone around them. For athletes you often just either win or lose, there really isn’t much else. No one recalls who loses the big game in a few years time. Yet other goals like my savings target are lines in the sand. They exist only to help steer me in the right direction, but I still can win the war even if I lose this particular battle.
On a similar note I’m going to be over budget in our Christmas shopping for the first time in a decade by a whole $90. I failed to meet another target, but then again was it a reasonable budget to begin with…looking back I don’t think so. We missed one person entirely we would have to buy for, so we didn’t have enough slack in our other spending to cover it.
The point is when saving for something that takes decades it is ok to fail at some of your interim goals. Frankly I would be shocked is anyone met all their goals all the time, as it would indicate to me the goals are too easy. Failure is part of life, without the risk of missing a goal you don’t have anything to push yourself with. So get comfortable with failure, take it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, but also don’t forget to celebrate your successes too.
How do you handle failing to meet a goal? Or how do you celebrate when you achieve one?