Setting financial goals can be tough sometimes. A common emotion experienced by, dare I say, all of us is frustration when it comes to our finances. At some point in all of our adult lives, we have been filled with a sense of disappointment when we aren’t saving enough, making enough or being enough. I almost think this is a rite of passage. If you are lucky enough, you would have left the cushy surroundings of your family home and have now found yourself all grown up and wondering “what the hell do I do now?!”
I could talk for days about how ill-equipped we are to enter the adult world from the perspective of understanding economics, taxes, income and all things finance that we will inevitably have to deal with. I’m not going to get into that topic here, after all, I wrote a whole blog post on it, check it out.
With so much information out there regarding the best ways to save money, it seems that there is always a new trick or shortcut to financial freedom available and packaged into a book, training course, spreadsheet, or app. Although systems to save money can be useful as tools (heck I even use the Simplifi app myself), it isn’t the reason why you’ve found it so hard to achieve success with your finances. Setting financial goals that are based on YOU is the most vital piece of the puzzle here. Without them, any tool you use will be redundant, sparking those feelings of frustration all over again.
So, what is the secret to setting financial goals? I’ve broken down my criteria for success into three questions. Answering YES to all three will have you on the right path to achieving your financial goals once and for all.
Financial Goals Question #1
Is there a specific, positive emotional outcome that you can tie to the goal?
We have all probably said something along the lines of:
“When I reach 10K months, I’ll be happy”
“Once I have X in my savings account, everything will be OK”.
You have to look at what you’re focusing on when you make statements like this to yourself. Looking at a number when setting your financial goals doesn’t evoke emotion. What that money means, can, however. Think about what having that number in your bank account would mean for your life. Attaching a positive emotion to that outcome gives you a must higher chance of achieving your goals.
Being motivated by money is a farce. It isn’t how our brains work. Leaning into true and aligned emotional outcomes is the key to internal and lasting motivation as it taps into your limbic system at the core level of your brain processes.
We are sentient beings that are driven by our feelings and emotions. It only makes sense to use positive emotional outcomes as motivators to achieving any goal.
Financial Goals Question #2
Will achieving this goal bring me closer to my dream life?
We all get shiny object syndrome. With so much on offer and so much to consume, it can be challenging sometimes to refocus on what we really want.
Overconsumption is a relatively new pain point that people struggle with these days. Thousands upon thousands of opinions, points of view, products, services and versions of reality are easily accessible through that little brick you call a phone. In theory, having so much option should broaden our points of view and give us a more rounded view of what we like and want.
However, it can so easily become muddled and confusing to the point that you just don’t know anymore what your own opinion is. We can easily tell ourselves that we really want something. However, is it really because YOU want it? Or is it because someone else wants it and so should you. This question is your reality check to make sure that you are only going after goals that are driving you towards YOUR dream life.
On the other hand, you could genuinely really want something but it still begs the question “will achieving this goal really bring me closer to my dream life? Or is it just a momentary and frivolous desire?
Financial Goals Question #3
Have I thought of multiple ways that I can get to the emotional outcome I want?
A frequently overlooked component of goal setting is that there are always multiple ways to achieve any emotional outcome. Achieving your financial goals by no means needs to be a rigid process. We can easily get tunnel vision on one way to meet an end that we don’t open ourselves up to opportunities that may be right in front of us that could contribute to meeting those financial goals.
We can get so obsessed with a dollar amount that we want, and one way of getting it, that if we don’t achieve it in this exact way, we’ve failed. Without knowing it, you may have been the main reason why you didn’t meet your goals. There are so many different ways to achieve anything. Especially now when our options are limitless and the possibilities, endless.
Refocus on the emotional outcomes you want to achieve and adjust your strategy as you need. We all know how unpredictable life can be and how you never really know what’s going to happen. We all got that wake-up call last year.
I want you to write out your financial goals and ask yourself (honestly) these questions:
- Is there a specific, positive emotional outcome that you can tie to the goal?
- Will achieving this goal bring me closer to my dream life?
- Have I thought of multiple ways that I can get to the emotional outcome I want?
How many did you answer YES to? You cannot fail to meet your financial goals if you answered yes to all three of these questions mixed with your hard work and determination. Having worked with so many people who struggled with the exact same things you are struggling with, I know that you will make a positive movement forward and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
Achieving financial freedom isn’t really a destination. It is obtained with continuous and consistent efforts on your part. That’s why not achieve a number or a target isn’t important. It’s about making a commitment to yourself that you will do what it takes to move closer towards the emotional outcomes you want. You deserve what you want, we all do. You also shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything to get it.