How Do I Set Goals: What You Can Learn From Monsters University (Part 1 of 2)

How Do I Set Goals - Monsters University

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How do I set goals?  I just took my daughter to see Monsters University.  After the movie was over, it hit me that my daughter could learn a lot about setting goals from this movie.  This movie can also teach you a lot about setting goals for your personal finances.  Following the plot of the movie, here are some best practices for setting goals.  (SPOILER ALERT!!!)

How Do I Set Goals

  1. Know your goal and be specific (no matter how unrealistic).  The movie starts with Mike Wazowski as a young kid going on a school field trip to the local power plant.  The students visit the scare floor, but Mike can’t see because he is the shortest student.  The other kids brush him off and tell him that he will never become a scarer.  Mike sneaks past all the kids and follows a scarer into a kid’s room.  From that point forward, Mike knows he wants to become a scarer.  Mike is a little, cute-looking monster and no one expects him to be a scarer.  But this does not discourage him.  He sets his goal of becoming a scarer.  In your financial life, you need to set goals, no matter how unrealistic they may seem.  People may laugh at you, but that is okay.  A mentor of mine once told me that if you shoot for the stars and miss, you hit the moon but if you shoot for the fence and miss, you hit the dirt.
  2. Ask for and take recommendations.  After Mike is caught, the scarer is impressed by him.  The scarer recommends that he attends Monsters University.  Just like in the movie, people will give you advice when you tell them your goals.  Listen patiently. Some of the advice will be good and some will not.  But you should also seek out others who have done what you want are seeking to do.  In The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!, Josh Kaufman says that asking for advice from those who have already gone through what you are going through is essential to quickly learning new skills.  By asking, you will be able to check your expectations and learn short cuts.  But don’t just ask anyone.  Ask someone who is as close to you as possible.  If your goal is to retire in South America, don’t ask someone who was born there and returned.  Find someone who was born where you were born and ask them.
  3. Set a Plan.  After Mike’s field trip is over, you see a bus dropping Mike off at college…Monsters University.  Mike made a plan to attend MU and is realizing his dream.  His plan was SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely).  Throughout the movie, Mike and the other characters reference his plan.  You need to have SMART plans for your financial goals too.  If you want your kids to attend Harvard, you need to start planning.  What year will he/she attend?  How much will tuition cost?  You need to break your plan down into the specifics to ensure you can reach your goal.
  4. Tell Someone.  Mike tells himself, his parents, his classmates, and anyone else in earshot that he is going to be a scarer.  Everyone knows what Mike wants to be when he grows up.  The people that he tells are either happy for him or try to dissuade him.  This will happen to you as well.  Once you start telling others your goals, you will find lots of people who are generally happy for you.  At the same time, you will find plenty of people who are negative and will try to crush your dreams.  Forget them!  Look at all we have accomplished in my lifetime alone.  I am 35 years-old and there is a good chance that I will go into outer space one day.  According to Kelly McGonigal in The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It, telling others will help increase your willpower to follow through on your goals.
In the spirit of keeping these posts short, that is all for today.  Join me this Tuesday for 5 additional tips on how do I set goals.  See you then.
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