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Financial Goals Are Boring!

by Rob Bertman, CFA, CFP® in Goals
April 4, 2016

Summary

Rarely do people show enthusiasm or excitement when listing their initial goals. That’s a serious problem, because people who don’t have an emotional attachment to their goals, will not take the actions necessary to accomplish those goals.

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Those who have an emotional response to their goals are driven to take the actions necessary to achieve them.

How do we find financial goals that we are excited about achieving?  Here’s an exercise to help:

20 Ideas in 2 Minutes Exercise  –  Download the Worksheet Here.

  1. Pull up something to take notes
  1. Set a timer for 2 minutes
  1. In those 2 minutes, list 20 things that you want to accomplish in your financial life.
  1. Take another 10-15 minutes and ask yourself 2 questions for each goal.
    • What would my life look like IF I accomplished this goal?
    • WHY is this important to ME?
  1. Focus on your top 3-5 goals then determine the very first action you will take for each goal.

Here’s why this exercise works:

  • Trying to list 20 goals forces you to be creative and get past conventional thinking.
  • The 2 minutes provides time pressure which can bring out the best in us.
  • The 2 questions will transport you out of your current mindset and into your emotional state after accomplishing the goal. What would it feel like? What would your life be like?

In the end, you will identify the goals that actually resonate with you because you’ve imagined what your life would look life if you accomplished them and why that’s important to you.

With a tiny investment of time, you will uncover goals that you feel compelled to take action and accomplish. That will give you confidence and pave a road to a better life on your terms.

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Transcript

Financial Goals Are Boring: How to set goals that will inspire you to take action and get results.

When I was in the financial industry for more than 15 years, I had many conversations about financial goals. When talking with people in their 20s and 30s specifically, some of the more common goals they initially brought up were, “I want to pay off my student debt,” or “I want to build up my savings to $x.”

Rarely if ever did they show any enthusiasm or excitement during these initial conversations. That’s a real problem, because people who don’t have an emotional attachment to their goals, will not take the actions necessary to accomplish those goals.

Those who have an emotional response to their goals are driven to take the actions necessary to achieve them. Those are the people that are ultimately successful.

Here’s what I mean by an emotional response: Let’s say you’re streaming your favorite playlist. You’ve heard the first couple songs and are starting to get in the groove.

Then all of a sudden “that song” comes on. The song that gets your heart racing. The song where you get pumped up within the first couple beats or first couple notes. Maybe it takes you back to an exciting time in your life or maybe the beats or lyrics really resonate with you.

That’s the kind of emotional response we need when we’re talking about financial goals, but how do we get there?

Here’s an exercise that I’ve used personally and with others to help identify financial goals that elicit an emotional response, the goals that ultimately motivated them to take action:

20 Ideas in 2 Minutes Exercise – Download the worksheet here.

  1. Pull up something to take notes
  2. Set a timer for 2 minutes
  3. In those 2 minutes, list 20 things that you want to accomplish in your financial life.

The benefits for the larger list of ideas and the short time frame are the following:

  1. Trying to list 20 is really going to stretch you. It forces you to be creative and get past the conventional goals that you think you should list or others have told you to do.
  1. The 2 minutes provides some pressure which can bring out the best in us.

After you’ve listed out those 20 things, go through and ask yourself 2 questions for each goal.

  1. What would my life look like IF I accomplished this goal?
  1. WHY is this important to ME?

Asking these questions will transport you out of your current mindset and into your emotional state after accomplishing the goal.  What would it feel like? What would your life be like?

As you go through your 20 items and ask these questions, you may notice that some of the goals you originally thought were good ones don’t really resonate with you.

More importantly, you will identify the goals that actually resonate with you because you’ve imagined what your life would look life if you accomplished them and why that’s important to you.

Pick your top 3-5, and decide what ONE action you are going to take to make progress on each one.

This exercise takes about 10-20 minutes, so make the time to do it.  If not right now, then set a calendar spot to get it done.

With a tiny investment of time, you will uncover goals that you feel compelled to take action and accomplish. That will give you confidence and pave a road to a better life on your terms.