When we walk through a door, we are taking an affirmative step towards something. The door is a metaphor for choice…we are making a decision to proceed in a particular way. Everything in life is a choice; we choose to live in a certain area; we choose what kind of car to drive; we choose where we worship; we choose our friends.
We talk a lot about financial planning goals but the reality is the multiple doors…the many choices available, complicate the process of setting active goals. Often, when we ask new clients about goals, they have somewhat vague, fuzzy descriptions. Even worse, these “goals” often are not well connected to reality. Like the adage goes “like a kid in a candy store”.
So, let’s walk through the three-step process for setting goals in your financial life:
- Clarify & Specify – In order for goals to be actionable, they need to be specific. Saying that you want to retire early is not very specific. Saying that you want to retire at age 63 is specific and therefore actionable.
2. Prioritize & Process – Some goals are more important than others. Are you willing to make tradeoffs in some less important areas in order to achieve the really high priority goals? Are you willing to engage in a process that details the steps needed?
3. Dollarize & Strategize – What will each of your goals cost in money and time? Can you actually do it? What is your strategy for making the goal reality?
If goal setting does not come naturally, start by creating a master dream list. Dreams may or may not develop into goals but the list that can be a reservoir going forward. I did just that in early 1979 and have kept this list all these years. Sure, many if not most of the dream list in 1979 ultimately faded in importance, but many others went on to become actionable goals. My original list contained about 75 items and perhaps half are checked off as being accomplished. About half of the remainder, 17, in fact, made it onto my goals list and 5 of those have been accomplished thus far. Of the remaining dozen, 3 or 4 items are considered current goals but not high priority goals. Remember, life isn’t linear…goals change.
Goal setting and goal planning is mostly about changing habits, plain and simple. Discipline is what results from those changed habits. We are here to help you focus on what’s most important. What doors do you want to walk through? Ready for a real conversation?