By Janice Desautels
One of my favorite sayings from a John Lennon song goes, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
If those life things start to take your attention away from what is really important to you, then before you know it, you begin to shrink your dreams to fit into that life. Make plans early on to achieve the life you want – especially as it pertains to your money.
As we move through life, there will be many events that occur, which more than likely will always have a dollar value attached. Events like furthering your education, travelling, starting a business, getting married, starting a family, or buying a home.
According to the Canadian Council on Learning, Canadians’ well-being depends partially on their ability to understand, analyze, and use financial information that will help them make good decisions in their day-to-day lives, plus plan for the future.
A plan, or setting goals, increases the probability of achieving the desired outcome. In addition, that plan can help minimize obstacles along the way because it keeps us focused on the result. Of the “9 Financial Blindspots” that many of us have experienced, one is not having written goals, which prevents us from attaining the future we desire.
One method of goal setting is setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal. This is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or results-focused, and timely. A quick way to get started is by asking and answering the 5 Ws:
What do I want to achieve?
Who can help me achieve this? Where can I go for advice?
When am I going to achieve this? (You most likely will have multiple goals, some you’ll achieve sooner than others. For example, buying a car will be achieved before reaching your retirement savings goal. For each goal, be specific in the timeframe.)
Where do I need to be in my life to make it happen? (Ask yourself: “Am I currently in a position to attain my goal?” If the answer is “no,” then how will the goal be achieved? By knowing what you want to achieve, move backwards through the steps until you are at the beginning. If this includes saving more than what you have, then how will you get the extra income?)
Most importantly is your WHY. Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important enough that if an obstacle is met, you can overcome it?
In our financial world this looks a lot like a budget. Unfortunately, a lot of us feel that a budget is somehow an outside force making us do something we don’t want to, and we’ll find every excuse under the sun to avoid it. Does that sound familiar?
If it does, try changing your perspective to “I’m making a plan to invest in my future,” or “I’m saving for what really matters to me.”
By making achievable goals and reviewing them regularly, this affords us the opportunity to meet the many changes in our lives with less stress and more satisfaction. It’s never too early to work on getting the life of your dreams!
Janice Desautels has been working with families and individuals for the last seven years helping educate in the field of financial literacy. She is a Certified Financial Educator with over 15 years experience in teaching and training adults.