Plan Your Money Goals Backwards

Is it just me, or did it take longer to get to places as a kid than it does as an adult? Actually, I know it’s not just me, because “are we there yet?” is a question that kids love to annoy you with. For a greater chance of reaching your money goals, reverse engineer them.

When I was six years old, we would cram into my mom’s car and drive all the way across town to my aunt’s house for what seemed like hours, and I would complain to my mom about how bored I was the entire way (sorry, Mom). It was a looooong, exhausting trek. When I got a few years older, I realized my aunt’s house was a mere 20 minutes away. I became familiar with the route, I knew where the endpoint was, so the journey was easier to tolerate.

Reaching your goals works the same way. Goals are much more bearable you when you know what the end looks like. And recent research from the Korea University Business School supports this idea, too. It found that planning a goal backward made subjects more successful with that goal. In one study, the researchers asked participants to come up with a study plan for their final exam, either in chronological order (forward planning) or reverse order (backward planning).

Reverse planning meant “planning the steps they would take just before their goal and working backward in time until they reached the step nearest in the future,” as Psychological Science put it. According to the study, students who planned backward actually performed better on the test than those who planned forward.  read more…

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