Goal setting: Ending up where you want to go

Jan. 20, 2013 @ 02:18 AM


Do you remember the following passage from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll?

“Alice came to the fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.

‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire cat.

‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,” said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ”

What do you dream of having and doing? People of all ages dream about how they would like to live, what they’d like to buy and what they will do when they are retired. If we remember that a goal is a dream with a deadline, we might be more inclined to invest the time needed to plan how we will realize at least some of those dreams.

Getting financially fit

Being financially fit is a journey from which we sometimes get derailed. It takes constant attention to the road, making course corrections, as needed. Using goal setting helps individuals and families become financially fit. While goal setting is an easy enough process to understand, figuring out what stands in the way of getting it done might be the first step to successful goal setting. Of course, that is different for each one of us. What gets in your way?

• Long ago learned messages about money and spending.

• Your values about money.

• Lack of (or perceived) time.

• “Not good with money.”

• Don’t know how to set goals or stick with them.

• Can’t resist the urge to spend.

• “Don’t have enough extra money.”

• Can’t agree with others in the household.

• “Will worry about it later.”

Once you have decided what you’d like to be able to do with your money and you are willing to work on it, you can use the goal-setting process to get there.

Luke Erickson, University of Idaho Extension educator, described the process of financial goal prioritization this way: “Think of budgeting as building and maintaining a boat, something that keeps you afloat. Think of written, prioritized financial goals as a motor you add to your boat to provide motivation, direction, and ‘horsepower’ to get somewhere worthwhile.”

Getting started on your journey

You might start with your long-held dreams, like owning your own house, having children or starting a business. You might select goals around life events: children’s needs (education/expected marriages), your own further education, retirement or items from your “bucket list.”

Categorize your goals as short-term (within one year), intermediate (one to two years) or long-term (three to five years). Beyond financial goals you may include educational, social/relationship, health/physical, and recreational desires. Those goals may or may not require money to accomplish. Before continuing, you, likely, will want to prioritize your goals.

To help you with this process, you may download: Your Financial Action Plan at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY37300.pdf.
Coming soon: Part 2 - Writing smart goals and pay yourself first.

Reference: The Importance of Financial Goal Setting: njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/message/message.asp?p=Finance&m=174
Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., Rutgers Cooperative Extension, 2/11