One of the most important parts of the financial advice process is the setting of your own, personal financial and lifestyle goals.
As advisers we think about setting, working towards and meeting goals for our clients day in day out. We understand that everything that surrounds ‘goals’ is not just tricky, but also goes far beyond just getting up one morning, setting a goal and tick that off our to do list…
When we think about the whole process of setting goals, making plans on how we are going to reach them, taking the actions that will eventually get us there and achieving our overall goals, one small milestone at a time, we often contemplate a process that can span over long periods of time and requires enormous personal commitment on our part - and sometimes from those around us as well.
We are also fully aware of just how much of a personal challenge it can be to almost all people to go on the journey of seeking for our inner truths and be honest about what we truly desire. There are often family dynamics and complex relationships in play. Sometimes they may perpetuate us forward - other times they may be holding us back.
What if there was an easy to follow matrix that would help you get started on the conversation - whether this is with yourself, your financial adviser, your family or your followers on Facebook?
Well you’re in luck - because there are helpful hints and tips out there.
Some of you may have come across the SMART goal setting system in the past. It’s an excellent start to the process but has over time grown into the SMARTER goal setting system.
Let’s imagine we want to kick the year 2020 off with a solid savings goal - maybe to save a deposit for your first home, or to go on that once in a lifetime holiday.
Developing a plan to meet this goal using the SMARTER goal setting system will increase your chances of meeting your goal significantly.
All you need to get started is a piece of paper and a pen, your iPad or your smartphone.
Outline your goal using a mind map or just write it down. Goals that have been put in writing or form a part of a picture are much more likely to be achieved than those that are just trapped in our mind.
Well done! You have just completed the first milestone.
Now it’s time to understand this goal in detail and ensure you give yourself the best chance to achieve it.
Introducing the SMARTER goal setting system.
Let’s deep dive into this concept further with an example.
Our goal may read:
‘I want to save a deposit for my first home.’
This is a great start and definitely an honourable goal. In order to give yourself the best chance to achieve your goal make sure your goal meets the SMARTER principles:
Specific and Measurable
‘I want to save a $50,000 deposit to buy my first home in 2022.’
Ensure your goal is achievable for your circumstances. If you do some calculations, your broker or adviser can help you with these, and end up revising your goal to ensure it is achievable and within your means.
We have now revised our goal to be:
‘I want to save a $50,000 deposit to buy my first home in 2023.’
Ensure your goal is realistic. Calculations will help as mentioned above. But you may also need to amend your goal if your circumstances change. If you analyse the market and come to realise that property prices have increased you may need to revise your goal again in a year's time.
‘I want to save a $55,000 deposit to buy my first home in 2023. I will sacrifice the holiday we had planned in 2022 to ensure we can meet this goal.’
Always ensure your goal has an end date. When do you want to achieve this goal by? You may also want to break up a very long time frame into smaller bite size chunks.
‘I want to save a $55,000 deposit to buy my first home in 2023. I will sacrifice the holiday we had planned in 2022 to ensure we can meet this goal. I already have $15,000 saved. I aim to save a further $15,000 per year starting in 2020.’
Notice how we have allowed for a couple of extra dollars every year to ensure we have a small buffer for anything unexpected life may throw our way.
Most people don’t check in on their progress on how they are tracking towards achieving their goals frequently enough. You should display your written goal, maybe in the form or a poster, mindmap, screensaver or inspirational board somewhere clearly visible. You should check in with yourself on a monthly basis to see if you have taken the necessary steps to come closer to achieving your end goal or small milestones in the past month. Evaluating your progress more regularly will also allow you to change course or adjust your goal quickly. This will increase your chances of meeting your goal significantly.
We all love to feel good about ourselves and the progress we have made. When you set up your plan on how you will achieve your goal, ensure you build in some clearly measurable milestone at which you will reward yourself for your progress. Maybe treat yourself to a day at the spa or a game of golf! It will keep you motivated and increase your confidence.
It’s been proven time and time again that the those who live the life of their dreams set goals for themselves.
Here are our top three tips for goal setting:
- Write them down and display your goals in a visible space.
- Follow the SMARTER goal setting system
- Revise often and keep reviewing and adjusting your goals as life changes.
And finally in the words of C.S. Lewis ‘You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.’