Let Me Clarify
Financial “Goals”

If you’ve ever worked with a financial advisor, you’ve undoubtedly heard the question, “what are your goals?” In all honesty, it’s a tough question to answer, for many reasons.

Overuse of the question is disengaging.

“Goals” can be hard to define.

Not knowing your “why” can be nerve wracking.

And trying to define your “purpose” can be intimidating and create a lot of emotion.

Regardless of the term you use – goals, why, purpose – aligning your resources with what’s most important to you is a major step in financial decision making. In fact, I would argue that behavior and failing to clearly define goals is a bigger risk to the success of most financial plans than taxes, investment returns, etc. It’s hard to stick with a plan if you don’t know why you made it in the first place.

That being said, let’s shift gears a bit to some tips on how to outline actionable steps once you have defined your broader goals.

  • First and foremost, it’s never too late! Even if you missed the wave for New Years resolutions, there is no deadline for identifying things you’d like to achieve or improve on.
  • Outline both short-term and long-term goals, creating a setting for immediate and delayed gratification.
  • Consider sprinkling in some “reach” goals. Those that seem easier will keep you positive and motivated, while others requiring more effort are a challenge to truly push yourself.
  • Try thinking in manageable steps, or micro actions. Compare “save $2,500 this year” against “saving $50 a week will get me there!”
  • Automate when you can! For example, direct deposit can remove temptation and make saving a habit.
  • It’s okay to not achieve every goal that you set. Arguably, it can be better than setting the bar too low and can motivate us to work harder next time.

Whether you have a financial plan or not, I challenge you to think about your “why”. Again, it can be difficult, it can be stressful, and it may bring to light more emotion than you expect. But setting this foundation is crucial for developing a plan that is truly tailored to you with steps you can take to succeed and stick with it.