Power Hack: The Daydreamer’s Guide to Goal Setting

Power Hack: The Daydreamer’s Guide to Goal Setting

In our “Power Hack” series, we highlight one quick thing you can do each week to improve your personal, career or money life.

Today, we’re featuring a mental trick for turning your "I'll get around to it later" mind-set into "I'll start today!"


We know your type, big dreamer.

When it comes to fantasizing about your financial future, the sky’s the limit. And you don’t just think long term—you think looooooong term.

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Whether you’re saving up for that brownstone with a fireplace, happily anticipating life sans student loans, or daydreaming about kicking back on Waikiki in retirement, you’re excited about your goals—and nothing can stop you from making progress!

Except when, well, you don’t.

Truth is, when it comes to working toward such significant milestones, even passionate goal setters can get waylaid by far-off to-dos and deadlines. So this week we’ve got a hack for making even distant goals feel urgent.

The secret? Frame your timeline in days—rather than years.

That goal you set for “a year from now”? The deadline’s now 365 days away.

The findings? Those who planned in days decided to start saving four times sooner.

Why It’s Worthy of Being Called a Power Hack: By breaking down your timeline into bite-sized chunks, your goals feel more immediate—and grounded in reality.

In fact, a University of South Carolina study found that thinking in terms of days motivated savers to act significantly sooner.

RELATED: The Power of Positive Thinking: How to Train Your Brain to Be Happier About Saving

Researchers asked two groups of participants when they would start saving for college, prompting one group to plan in terms of years—say, to begin in 18 years—and the other in terms of 6,570 days.

The findings? Those who planned in days decided to start saving four times sooner, leading researchers to surmise that deadlines that are days away feel that much more pressing and tangible.

By bridging the gap between your current and future self, “investing in the future does not seem like a sacrifice,” lead researcher Daphna Oyserman told the Association for Psychological Science.

How to Get Hacking: Whether you want to sock away a certain amount for retirement, or pay off a credit card balance, simply set your goal's deadline in days.

Online calculators, like HowLongAgoGo, can help make this step quick and painless—and spare you from having to count leap days.

Next, set a strategy for holding yourself accountable, such as asking a friend or loved one to periodically check in on your progress.

And don't forget to keep track of the days, whether you cross them off in your planner, or set a countdown clock on your desktop.

By combining concrete goals with this fresh perspective on deadlines, you’ll be prepared to make every day count.

RELATED: 4 Strategies to Reach Your Money Goals Faster

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