That’s basically how my first conversation with a financial planner started. I was sitting in some swanky office saying how I’d like to make a million dollars by the time I turned 30 years old. I don’t think I’d even started to think about how I was going to reach that goal, and unfortunately the best answer the financial planner could give me was “well you might get there with dividend stocks.”
I talk a lot about planning on the site, and this is definitely not the last time you’re going to hear about it. I could throw out some cheesy motivational quote about how having a plan helps you reach for the stars or makes your dreams come true…but let’s just stick with this: planning works. Having a plan may not get you exactly where you think it will, but it will push you in the right direction.
Ultimately it doesn’t really matter what your plan is or what your end goal is. What matters most is creating a domino effect to get you there. Like we’ve talked about before, starting small can mean the difference between sticking to your plan and falling massively short. We need little wins in life to keep us motivated, and once those little wins snowball into bigger wins, the momentum can really pick up. This can apply to money, to losing weight, to getting the job you want after graduation. Breaking it down into little wins, giving yourself a plan for today, next week, next month, and next year, makes the entire process that much easier to go after.
Now barring winning the lottery or finding a pot of gold, I don’t think I’ll be a millionaire by 30. I made a number of big mistakes early on in my investing career, but that’s not to say I completely failed. Part of the problem was not adequately mapping out what I needed to do to get there. I was earning enough money, and I knew I had to save consistently, but I was so worried about another equity market correction that I ended up missing out on a lot of gains early on in my career. As difficult a lesson as that has been to learn, I still got around to coming up with a plan to get myself on the right track 3 years ago (when I was 25). I started by pushing my budget and saving just that little bit extra each month. I put that money directly into the market, and have learned to use leverage (carefully) in order to get closer to my goals.
Take the time to sit down and think about where you’d like to be in a year, in 5 years, in 10 years. Think about what steps you can take to set you in the right direction, to the point where you have a plan down to the day. That plan may change, but I have no doubt that you’ll be moving forward. As for me, every month my number ticks up a little bit more, and even if I’m not at a million by 30, I’ll still know that I’m well on my way.