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Looking Forward to 2017

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Entering the new year with a plan

Last week, I talked about the top 3 lessons learned in 2016. I encouraged you to make your own list of things you learned in the past year, and reflect on your triumphs and failures. You can read that blog here.

This week, I'm looking forward to the top trends and predictions for 2017, and how you can position yourself to make it your best year yet.

What to expect from 2017

There's no way to know for certain what will happen in the new year. As we know from previous experience, things can drastically change overnight. But there are a few trends we will probably see carrying over from 2016.

1) Embrace the tech

Sound familiar? Last week I wrote about how one of the biggest lessons we learned in 2016 was that technology is on top. That is a trend you can expect to accelerate in 2017.

I for one am very excited to see what technology advancements 2017 brings. For some, technology spells doom as robots threaten to replace workers and cut jobs. But for entrepreneurs, technology promises to address problems and make running a business easier than ever.

If you want to keep pace with these developments, give yourself the gift of further education. Coding academies are rising in popularity. There are hundreds of video tutorials online to help you learn different platforms. Online networks allow you to connect with your workforce and your customers at the touch of a button.

Using the wide array of tools out there to help you improve or create your business is one of the best ways to excel in 2017. Make it a part of your New Year's resolutions to incorporate further learning and tech adoption into your financial plan.

2) President Trump's economic outlook

With President Trump's promises of tax cuts and lowered government spending, investors are looking forward to a good year. Of course, the markets can surprise you, but 2016 looks poised to end the year on a high note, so odds are it will stay that way going into 2017.

The tax cuts proposed by Trump will also make a huge impact. With a Republican president and Congress, these policies could be on the fast track to implementation. Meaning, we could see the benefits of these financial plans as early as next year. Trump's First 100 Days Plan spells out more policies that could drastically affect the landscape of 2017. How many of them will be passed? We can't be sure. But it gives us a good idea of where America can go from here.

2017 will have its ups and downs. Again, we can't know for sure what will happen, and things are always liable to drastic change. That's why maintaining a strong financial knowledge base will be the best way to navigate the coming year. Don't wait around until the government implements new financial policies. Take charge of your financial plan now and position yourself for a great year.

3) Debt will increase to an all-time high

Debt has been on the rise for years. 2016 was a record high for consumer credit card debt , and I have a feeling the problem is only going to get worse. According to WalletHub , there's still room to grow: "There's no reason to think we won't blow past $1 trillion in outstanding balances with ease in 2017, demolishing the record of $984,159,159,200 set in 2008."

These days, it's easier than ever to make money running your own business or investing in assets, but it's also easier to get into debt. Still, bad debt is not inevitable. There's no reason you shouldn't be able to get out and stay out of debt. Remember the two rules of staying out of bad debt (which I wrote about here): Don't swipe the small stuff and credit keeps charging.

Go into 2017 with open eyes regarding your spending habits and debt. Are you carrying over debt from last year? What's your plan to pay it off? Do you have a clean slate? What steps will you take to avoid bad debt? Ask yourself these questions and get your plan together early.

What does this mean for you?

At the end of the day, we can speculate all we want. It's nice to think everything will go smoothly in 2017, but we know that's just not realistic. We can't know the future, so the only way to prepare is to turn your focus inward.

Instead of wringing your hands in fear, or sitting back comfortably because you think everything will go your way, take 2017 into your own hands and start crafting a strong financial plan that can sustain you no matter what happens.

Start by identifying what you hope to achieve. I find the act of physically writing down my goals the best way to get my vision out in the open. Once it's written down, I'm committed to it.

As we all know, it's all too easy to fall off the wagon with our New Year's resolutions. That's why you have to set up goals that in turn set you up for success. I've written before about how to do this by setting SMART goals, and now, with the new year approaching, this task is more important than ever. Remember, SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

When your goal meets these five characteristics, it becomes much easier for you to stick to them. And remember, every goal should be working you towards a greater vision of where you want to be.

Another way to make sticking to your goals easier is by getting others involved. Whether it's your spouse, your kids, your friends, or a mentor, you can find a partner to help keep you dedicated to your goals. We all know it's easier to go to the gym when we have a friend going with us. The same holds true for financial freedom.

With your goals in mind, you can start making a list of what you'll need to attain them. Maybe you need increased understanding of real estate. Maybe you need to understand how to invest for cash flow. By knowing where you are, and where you want to go, it should quickly become apparent the things you must learn to get there. Increasing your financial education is the first step.

Why I'm optimistic for 2017

New Year's is always an optimistic time. Everyone looks forward to a fresh start, and even if you're carrying baggage from 2017 in the form of bad debt or poor financial decisions, there's a sense of starting over.

Anything can happen in 2017. To the glass-half-empty folks out there, that might be a little scary. But to the rest of us, that's great news. Anything can happen, like getting out of debt, starting your business, quitting your job as an employee and making the shift to business owner and investor, purchasing your first asset, and so much more. If you haven't started the journey to financial freedom, 2017 is your time. You just have to take it.

Original publish date: December 28, 2016

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