“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” – Zig Ziglar
That’s true for most aspects of life, including our finances. Most of us realize that. It’s why we set New Year’s resolutions—and why more than half of all Americans set some type of financial goal as a resolution each year.1
As great as setting goals is, it won’t accomplish much for you if you can’t achieve them. And, maybe not so surprisingly, the vast majority of people (92% according to the research) don’t achieve their goals.2
Why do we (and I’m including myself here) struggle so much to meet the goals we set for ourselves? Is it because we don’t want to? Because we lack commitment? Not so much.
One big reason behind our failures is that most of us lack a clear connection between our present reality and the future we’d like to achieve. That vagueness can cut the emotional ties to a financial goal, draining the passion and commitment that actually lie within us.3 When we don’t connect to our goals at a deep level, it’s easy to get off track and lose our momentum.
So, how can we stay on track to achieve our financial goals?
By reconnecting with the vivid emotions behind them and digging deeper to uncover our inner passions and motivations behind our goals.3 A simple way to dig deeper into the underlying reason for your financial goals is by peeling back the layers and asking yourself “why?” three times.
Start by asking yourself why you have set a specific financial goal: "Why do I want to (obtain this financial goal)?" Financial goals to earn more, save more, or build wealth are usually linked to a deeper desire, like the desire to have more time, more freedom, or an early retirement. Answer this first question to help reveal the general motivation behind your financial goal.
Once you know what motivated you to set your financial goal, ask yourself why again: "Why do I desire this?" With this "why," you're getting more personal, digging into how your motive for a financial goal is directly connected to your drive in life. Maybe you want to live a more comfortable lifestyle, travel more, spend more time with your loved ones, or provide for your family.
Now ask "why" a third time: "Why do I want to (fulfill this personal desire)?" Deep inside your goals are the vivid reasons that drive you. Get specific and figure out exactly how this dream fits into your life, your relationships, and your values. The answer to this third "why" should be deeply emotional and connected to who you are and what you value.
When you're able to dig deep and connect your financial goals to your innermost desires, you'll stay excited about them for the long run.
For most people, financial goals take time to achieve. From spending less to saving more, these goals take consistent effort and action. They can require you to change your habits, make sacrifices, and stay the course for years.
And that’s hard.
But it can be a lot easier if you’re able to stay connected to the “why” and the passion behind your goals.
Maybe you want more free time so you can enjoy special experiences with your family because you’ve missed important occasions before. Maybe you’re focused on creating a lasting foundation for your children because your family struggled while you were growing up. Perhaps you dream of owning a vacation home where your family can gather because you have fond memories of family gatherings in the past.
Because, if you’re truly passionate about your financial goals, you’ll stay excited about them for the long run. And that can mean you’ll be far more likely to work harder toward achieving your goals and you’ll be far less likely to give up on them.4
Of course, the financial goals you set today can change over time. With age and changing life circumstances, new financial goals can replace the ones you set 5, 10, or even 20 years ago. No matter when or why those goals may change, staying connected to the “why” behind them can go a long way to helping you achieve them.
If you’re thinking about the “why” behind your financial goals and want to talk about them, give my office a call at (919) 335-4744.
I’d love to hear more about your goals, why you chose them, and where you are at in your journey toward achieving them. I have a lot of experience helping my clients with their financial goals, and I look forward to the opportunity to help you, too.
Michael Whitman, MBA, CFP® Millennium Planning Group
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