As your business grows, planning for your financial health is a necessary step toward reaching your long-term financial goals. We often think of the beginning of the year as the best time to think about these matters, but the truth is that any time can be ideal for establishing your vision for the future and setting goals to help you reach them. However, our work with high-net-worth individuals over the past 20 years has shown us that setting meaningful goals can be challenging. Following are some best practices that can help to guide this important process.

Brainstorm What You Want To Accomplish

Studies show that writing down goals and reflecting on them gives you a better chance of achieving some or all of them. We recommend starting by brainstorming on a whiteboard or a notepad — somewhere you can easily make revisions. It also can be helpful to place your goals where you can see them every day to keep them top-of-mind as you make decisions.

As you brainstorm, remember there are no wrong answers; this is a deeply personal exercise based on your unique vision. It can be helpful, to begin with short-term goals that you want to accomplish in the next day, week, or month. From there, you can expand your thinking out further to the next year and longer. Consider everything from major aspirations to small improvements. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process, so it doesn’t need to be perfect in the first round. These are your goals, and you can change them as your life evolves.

Keep Them S.M.A.R.T.

As you continue to map out your priorities and goals, keep in mind that the most effective ones follow the S.M.A.R.T. model — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Your business and personal goals can follow the same process, with room for creativity in your execution.

Create A Personal Mission Statement

Once you have defined a set of goals, review them for overarching themes. If you haven’t already established a personal mission statement, this can help you derive one based on what you’ve expressed as important. This personal mission can aid your decision-making process and maintain your focus.

Break Down Your Goals

Finally, consider the actions and time needed to bring your goals to fruition. Can you prioritize the list or break larger goals into smaller chunks? Do you need any additional resources or support to achieve them? Creating action plans with incremental accomplishments along the way can help increase the likelihood of reaching your desired destination and maintain forward momentum.

Adjust As Needed

Of course, having a goal and working towards meeting the milestones along the way takes commitment. It can be a tedious process as life happens and situations arise that test your ability to uphold what you wish to accomplish. Often, people want to give up when planning does not achieve their expectations. It may be that some of your goals need readjustment to align with your changing needs rather than abandonment.