We all know the benefits of goal setting – focus, clarity and hopefully, success.
Yet the real benefits of setting financial goals go well beyond the increased chance of achieving them.
Benefit #1: Helps to Review Your Here and Now.
The first thing that financial goal setting does is allow us to review where we are now.
Many of us feel uncomfortable, apathetic or not in control of our financial affairs. When this happens we tend to avoid opening the bank statements or reading the pay slip. When we set a financial goal around debt repayment or saving for a particular item, it gives us an added incentive to get to grips with what we earn, what we spend, what we have and what we owe. This process also tends to highlight to us what we don’t know and give us the opportunity to fill in some gaps. When it comes to finances information is power.
Benefit #2: Focusing on your Priorities
The second benefit is about focusing on our priorities. Few of us have simple wants and desires. Chances are you want to work less, earn more, have more, owe less, be carefree spending more today and have peace of mind that you’ll have everything you need tomorrow.
The act of goal setting gives us the opportunity to be realistic about we can achieve and to prioritise those wants and needs.
When you are feeling overwhelmed one of the most powerful things you can do is take a paper and pencil and write down everything you want. You write and write and write until there is no room left, until you can’t squeeze anything more from your head and onto the paper. By seeing these things written down, you have a visual representation of the hidden expectations you carry around. You can then acknowledge that it’s not realistic to have them all, or to have them all now. What you can do is pick one or two of the most important wants and work towards those. Focusing on a couple of goals instead of a lengthy list will make you more likely to achieve them and reduce the chance of getting discouraged and giving up.
Benefit #3: Managing Regret
The third benefit of goals is about managing regret. When you pursue one goal, chances are you are giving up (or delaying) the opportunity to achieve another. You’ve decided to focus on getting out of debt and that has meant you’ve said no to the weekend away with your girlfriends. Or you’ve decided to further your career prospect through further training, but that’s delayed your ability to save for your deposit. We will always get moments of regret and longing for things we wish we had done or not done. But knowing that your choices are furthering your chosen financial goals will help you deal with the downside.
Benefit #4: Learn New Skills
The fourth benefit are the invaluable skills, knowledge and habits you gain, that will percolate throughout other aspects of your life. The experience of negotiating with your bank to consolidate your credit card debt might come in handy when having to raise difficult conversations at work. Getting your superannuation sorted by understanding fees and investment options may help you be more confident and informed when going to apply for a home loan.
The act of budgeting and managing your spending may make you more mindful of social justice issues as well as the environment impacts of consumption.
The final word goes to Henry David Thoreau, an American author and philosopher of the 1800s who shared with us this wisdom:
‘What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.’
About Rhiannon Robinson:
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