January is the time of new beginnings, a fresh start. Now, if it brings 4 or 5 Mondays in a row with kids getting snow days, then that is not new, but at some point, we do have to come to the reality that the weatherman is never 100% right. I digress.
This time of year is a great time to evaluate and re-evaluate you GOALS. Back when you were in high school, a wise and hopefully considerate guidance counselor may have asked you, “What do you what to be when you grow up?” What he or she was trying to accomplish was to open your mind to setting long term goals. Let me put on my Financial Guidance Counselor hat now. So, what do you want to do in the next 3 years, 5 years, or even 30 years? Let’s break it down.
As a financial advisor, my job is sitting with people and help to guide their ambitions and intentions. We call this, a goal setting session. I don’t want to be too cheesy, but how can someone on my side of table help you to the finish line, if we don’t know about the race. Here is where I tell people to start:
- Think…and pray on these dreams. Is it to buy a house in the next 3 years, is it to complete some education to better your financial position, or is it to lose 10 pounds before the big 10K next spring? Start with what you want to accomplish. Write it down, share it with those in your circle.
- What would you have to do or give up doing to accomplish these dreams in this timeframe? Unfortunately, it is easy to set goals, but the action to change is much more difficult. Maybe it is to start saving for retirement. Then, given your age and position in life, what is needed at the end point, what can you afford to set aside, or even, how would you invest to get in the path of the savings goal?
- Don’t lose sight. After some good progress, many of us lose sight. There is an old saying that it takes 2 weeks to change a pattern; weight loss, adjusting to different work schedules, etc. I would venture to say that changing the pattern of long-term saving takes 2-3 years. The first year you are adjusting to the reduction is spendable income, the next 2-3 years, you are attempting to increase your regular savings. Here is a tip: I too have a long-term goal. There is a picture of it taped to my bathroom mirror. I need to look at least twice a day when I brush my teeth. Find a way to keep the goal in front of you.
- Lastly, check in on the goals. Set a time on a regular basis to check in, evaluate, and adjust. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone for help in your goal accountability.
Goal setting is a life-long mission, from small daily efforts to long term even generational efforts, make sure to keep your financial advisors in the loop. They may be able to direct and even help hold you accountable to those visions.