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Setting Better Financial Goals and Sticking to Them

“You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.” - C.S. Lewis

C.S Lewis reminds us that a new goal can always be set, and that time is not a deterrent for making new goals. Why do we set goals? Primarily to give us something to aspire to, a challenge to surpass, an intention for our lives. Financial goals specifically can be used as a benchmark to answer some important questions: How do you want to live your life? What tools do you have in place to secure it?

It’s not just setting the goal, it’s sticking to it.

It is easy enough to set goals for yourself, right? For example, “I want to have ‘X’ saved by next year, or “I won’t stray from the grocery list I made this week,” or even “I want to have all of my debt paid off in 2 years.”

These financial goals are simple and straightforward, but they are also isolated and independent of each other. The key to success in achieving your desired financial goals is for them to be grounded in a strategy intended to guide all decision-making, especially those related to finance.

Strategy goes beyond the desire to accomplish a single task, or the resolve toward single, isolated projects. It is a translation for the way you want to live your life. Setting your financial goals in tandem with a strong intention will increase your likelihood for success because it is something you believe in and becomes inherent to your lifestyle.

The things we care about and assign value to are the things that we become more invested in and nurture to flourish. Think about it:  if you were watching a football game between two teams that you don’t particularly follow you will be less likely to be affected by the outcome. Whereas, if you were watching a football game between your home team and its intense rival, you may be able to recount the important officiating decisions, discuss play strategy, or be on the edge of your seat until the final second ticks off the clock.  Victory will have an emotional impact on how you feel.

Meaning and value are subjective, but if you set intentions behind your financial goals, you will find that making the goals, and following through on them will be a much easier process.

What goals hold meaning to you?

It’s perfectly acceptable, and encouraged to think about yourself and your family when you set your financial goals. Only you can decide what is meaningful to you, what type of goal is right for your livelihood, and what intentions will drive you to execute the strategy needed to complete the goals you set for yourself.

If cleaning up your debt is the most important financial goal for you right now, think about other things you spend your money on and which you are willing to give up so you can put more of your paycheck toward those student loans, mortgage payment, etc. Maybe skip out on some take-out orders for the week or washing your own car. The financial decisions you make to achieve your goals are entirely your own and will be achieved with the drive and determination you set for yourself to see your goals through.

By lining up your financial plan with the goals that mean the most to your life, you will be able to set specific objectives that are realistic, attainable, and practical.

What can these meaningful goals look like?

Remember the isolated goals we talked about in the beginning, like saving ‘X’ dollars by the end of the year? If this goal is not rooted in intention and meaning to a broader strategy, it will be more difficult to stick to in the long run. It might be helpful to try thinking about specific goals in terms of ‘saving money for sending my kids to college’ or ‘saving money for an aging parent’ or ‘saving money for buying a house.’ In short, write down what’s meaningful for you, then set financial goals that support your lifestyle choices that you will be proud of when you reach the end of your life.  Otherwise, you may feel empty, like you have wasted the gift of life that you were given.

These meaningful goals have inherent value attached to them.  Visualizing the impact that the savings will have on your livelihood is one of the key factors in its success as well as your sense of fulfillment.  Remember, the goals you set for yourself should have meaningful emotional impacts on your sense of self worth.  There is never a wrong time to re-examine your lifestyle choices and set new, more deeply fulfilling financial goals.

Are you struggling to think of what goals might be meaningful, and how you can make your financial decisions with them in mind? A financial planner can help. Through our comprehensive planning process, we help you to identify what you value, and how to set big picture life goals accordingly. We then help you make empowered decisions about your money that puts you on track to meet those goals. If you’re ready to take the next steps in your financial journey, I’d love to talk to you. Contact me today to learn more about how your wealth can be used to formulate the goals that are on your heart and realistically attainable - how we can execute the steps needed to achieve them all.