by Matt Brock, Divergent Planning (@matthewbbrock)
Most people set goals in life but far fewer are able to live their life intentionally toward achieving those goals. To do this we have to look beyond just setting goals. We have to set ourselves up for success.
Working with individuals in financial planning has given me the opportunity to have thousands of conversations over the past eight years with people about their financial goals. What I have always found interesting is how some people, who seemingly have little, are able to achieve their goals with laser focus and determination. Others, who seemingly have a foundation, end up failing. These successes and failures have a lot to do with the passion and intentions behind the goals. Its equally as important to be honest with yourself and others about what you really want to accomplish.
Here are three things I have learned to help set someone up for success in goal planning:
Societal Check - Make Your Goals YOUR Goals
Avoid societal pressure. Its common to set goals that are not YOUR own. We set goals we think we should be trying to achieve without the proper passion and drive. This is always an issue with financial planning. Far too often, people feel like there is a set list of things they should and should not do when dealing with their finances. I often hear, "I should be maxing out my retirement" or "I should be aggressive with my savings because I am young". The problem with this type of mentality is it does not always match up with the real goals and intentions you have. These societal pressures have to be eliminated in order to be honest with yourself as to what you really want to achieve.
If your goal is to start a business there is nothing wrong with delaying "retirement savings" while you invest in your company. If you are passionate about the business and attack it aggressively with your time and energy then you will likely achieve financial success by default and be much happier along the way..
Break it Down - Create Mini-Goals
Do you have the resources to even start working toward a goal? If not, break your bigger goal into smaller, more achievable mini-goals. This "snowball effect" goal planning is ideal when setting long term goals. If you want to have a million dollars in twenty years and you have zero now, you will have a long wait to feel achievement. Break it down into smaller goals so you can feel a sense of accomplishment in days rather than years. Keep the long term goal in mind but also have weekly and monthly goals you can achieve. These smaller successes will snowball into your larger, longer-term goal.
“Achieving the impossible is merely stringing together a series of the possible.” - from Every Shot Must Have a Purpose
Tell the World - Share Your Goals
Admittedly, this is the hardest part for me. I always kept my goals to myself. I am naturally an introvert so I tend to not like talking about myself and really get nervous asking for help. What I have learned, however, is that most people (family, friends and even strangers) like helping others. People can not help you if they don't know what you are trying to achieve. Don't expect someone to give you a million dollars. But, remember that you don’t know how someone can help you without sharing what you are trying to achieve.
When we launched Divergent Planning we decided we were going to be intentionally transparent to our clients and the public. We told our clients how we wanted to become the most sought after financial services firm in the DC area. The result has been amazing feedback and support. Since we made some of our goals public it gives us more motivation to achieve them. If we fail, its out there. Share your goals. Help can come in unexpected ways from unexpected people.
Most everyone knows the importance of goal setting. But, don’t forget to also set yourself up for success by your actions and intentions. Have you shared your goals recently?