One of my first experiences of goal setting was in anticipation of my first ever paycheck.
I was 19 and had just started my first job at Woolworth. I was a checkout chick. At first, it was like living out my childhood play in real life. Scanning items, telling the customer how much their total was, and handing over their bagged items to complete the cycle. That first week on the job, I was scanning in my sleep.
The thought of getting money for having traded in my time was incredible. I dreamed about my first paycheck and what I’d do with it long before payday. I had thoughts about buying a pair of trendy jeans, of going to the movies, and countless other things. But the idea that really took my fancy was one that came across the conveyer belt a few days before payday. Someone was buying an array of chocolate bars and they were on sale for $1 each! The sale seemed to be on the whole Cadbury collection and there were some bars I’d not tried before.
So what took hold in my brain was the idea of buying one hundred chocolate bars for $1 each with the money I’d earnt. Something about it excited me and I couldn’t wait to do it!
Why the goal mattered
I can’t recall if I shared this idea with my Dad or not but for some reason, he pitched me another idea. He suggested that my first paycheck be the start of my savings account. This idea stuck too. For some reason, I liked it. I liked the idea of the first dollar I earnt being a seed for future dollars, and in some way, being with me throughout life.
From many ideas of how to spend my first paycheck, I’d whittled them down to two ideas. I was able to restrain myself because I valued these more highly than the other ideas.
- My goal was to split my first check between fun and responsible.
- I knew it’d be complete when I’d bought my chocolates and had transferred money into my savings account.
- To accomplish it I had to split the money between these two ideas which was realistic because it was my money (Whoop whoop!).
- I was excited about the goal because it was a great way to celebrate my first paycheck
- and it was important to me to do something for my future self.
With my first paycheck I’d do something fun and a bit crazy, and also something forward-thinking and responsible. My first paycheck came in for just over $200 or so, $100 went to my savings account and the other towards chocolates. One hundred of them. There wasn’t a lot leftover! I realised that I’d have to work more hours and wait another fortnight to get more money but that was okay. It was worth it.
Years of benefits
I brought those chocolates home and kept them in the bottom drawer of my desk. I’d open that drawer and look at them periodically. So impressed that I’d done that. That I had that many. I ate some (got to test out the full Cadbury range) but ended up selling a fair few to my little sister. And for 50 cents more than what I’d paid. So in the end, I made a lot of my money back!
And that was one of my first experiences of setting a goal and seeing it come to fruition. It was a really powerful moment and I think about that first paycheck often. That’s the power of setting and achieving a goal. The fruits of your labour can ripple out over the years. Like the $100 that’s in my savings account to this day.