Some of us are gifted at setting good, clear goals, but others need some help. Popular author and speaker Brian Tracy wrote, “Successful men and women invest the time necessary to develop absolute clarity about themselves and what they really want, like designing a detailed blueprint for a building before they begin construction. Most people just throw themselves at life like a dog chasing a passing car and wonder why they never seem to catch anything or keep anything worthwhile.” *[Brian Tracy, Goals!, (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2003), p. 50.]
As you consider your goals, think about these principles:
Goals Must be Your Own
Don’t just adopt your parents’ or your friends’ goals. Take time to think about what you really want, and make them your own. You’re more likely to accomplish them if you’re personally invested in them.
Consider What Matters Most
Is there anything that gnaws at your soul and won’t let you sleep because you’re so worried? Resolving that problem is a high priority for you. Make it a goal, and establish a strategy to accomplish it.
Find Someone To Inspire You
I love the story of Jim Ryan, the first man to break the four-minute mile. Most people thought running a mile in less than four minutes was impossible, but Ryan was determined to prove them wrong. His autobiography, In Quest of Gold, tells how he set that goal and accomplished it in spite of long odds. Ryan is an inspiration to me and to anyone who has been told that we can’t achieve our dreams.
Crystallize Your Thinking
Some people benefit from imagining a scenario that forces them to think more clearly. For instance, imagine that you just found out that you have a terminal disease and you have only six months to live. What would your goals be? Or think about what it would be like to enjoy your 90th birthday party. Where will you have the party? Describe the details of that party. Who would be there? What will they be saying about you, and what do you want them to say about you?
Prioritize Each Goal
All goals aren’t equally important, and each of the four types of people (buried in debt, barely above water, bucks in the bank but still worried, and filled with purpose and contentment) will have different specific goals, at least for the short-term. Be disciplined and determined to focus on the most important goals first.
Reexamine Your Goals From Time to Time
Things change. Births, deaths, graduations, weddings, promotions, hurricanes, floods, fires, illnesses, injuries, and other major events can affect your goals. Don’t be too rigid, but learn to be flexible to tailor your goals to fit your current situation.
Identify your goals and prioritize them to be sure you accomplish what matters most to you.
Each goal will need a specific date and the funding required. For example, your goals might include:
-college education for your children
-a nice wedding for your daughter
-meaningful vacations for your family
-paying off the mortgage on your home
-a comfortable retirement; for instance, to retire on your birthday,April 15, 2027with $100,000 in annual income (in today’s dollars)
-starting a business
-caring for an elderly parent or a disabled spouse or child
Recently, John and Krista identified their goals, but they wrestled with the projected amounts and dates when they would need the money. In their calculations, they figured that Krista would go back to work after Angela, their younger child, finished high school. Their goals are:
-College expenses for Jason
Amount needed for a state university: $80,000
Beginning: August 2021
-College expenses for Angela
Amount needed for a state university: $80,000
Beginning: August 2023
-Wedding for Angela
Amount needed: $35,000
Date needed: about 2027
Amounts needed: an average of $3000/year
Dates needed: yearly
Amount needed: $150,000/year (adjusted for inflation)
Date needed: beginning on John’s 65th birthday,March 22, 2041
John and Krista determined that their top priorities are college expenses for the children and meaningful family vacations.
What are your most important financial goals?
Look at each of the goals you have prioritized. What will it mean to you to accomplish each of these? Achieving your goals is easier to do when you actually think about what it will mean to you and the people you love when you meet your goals. After all, isn’t the reason you set financial goals so that you provide a better life for yourself and the people you love?
Don’t forget to use your imagination to see your goals accomplished.
Will you take the next step today?