My personal finance journey is now in its fourth year. In the last two years, I always made public my yearly goals outright (2004 goals, 2005 goals). Having a clear goal to work toward is definitely important, but when I revisit my previous years' stated goals today, I feel I crammed too many different things before and I cannot say my 2004 and 2005 goals are really "clear."
One way to set clear goals is to keep things simple, and therefore I cut my 2006 goals to two:
Goal 1: Annual Net Worth Growth of $150,000 ($12,500/month)
Goal 2(*): Annual Investment Gains of $40,000 ($3,333/month)
(*) Excluding gains or losses from employee stock option plan.
If you compare the numbers against what's in my financial plan, both are a bit higher than the medium case ($145,100 net worth growth and $35,000 investment return) I projected. This is, of course, intentional -- setting goals that are easy to meet is another sin.
From now on, I'll include a section in my monthly report to compare against these two stated goals. Below is the comparison for February Year-To-Date:
YTD Net Worth Growth: $32,278 ($16,137/month, or 129% goal attainment)
Investment Return: $5,712 ($2,856/month, or 86% goal attainment)