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This post, “Why Having Financial Goals Isn’t Enough,” is a guest post by Lauren Rilling, a Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach and founder of LaurenRilling.com and SaveGiveandSpend.com.
Take it away, Lauren!
Why Having Financial Goals Isn’t Enough – You Need a Vision!
Have you ever set a goal and failed? I have. More than once.
I’d start out with great intentions and lots of motivation only to get discouraged and give up after a few days or weeks. This happened with different types of goals I’d create for myself: fitness goals, financial goals, organization goals, even goals to maintain a house-cleaning schedule.
So many goals. So much failure.
Then I discovered the secret to reaching goals isn’t just having a goal, but articulating a vision to go with it.
It’s the goal behind the goal. It’s your reason WHY. And it has to be both clear and deeply meaningful to you, to the point where you can paint a scenario in your mind of what you’re ultimately striving for.
It’s like when I would go on a diet to lose a few pounds, I had a goal to fit into smaller jeans, but not a vision for how I wanted my life to change. My reasons WHY weren’t strong enough and I would inevitably go back to my old dietary habits (self-professed sugar addict here).
But when I learned about how cutting out sugar and processed foods could reduce inflammation and alleviate arthritis pain in my knees (sad but true), I quit sugar and bread, focused on getting lots of veggies and omega-3s, and you know what happened?
My energy skyrocketed, I have better mental clarity, and less pain. It’s been a lot easier to stay on track this time because I can envision a full and happy life without pain and disease. I can ride a bicycle again! (Yeah, it was that bad.)
A Vision Keeps You in Pursuit of Your Financial Goals
Here’s the thing: when you have a vision the tough stuff is WORTH the sacrifice. The reward is so great compared to what you’re giving up that it doesn’t feel like such a big deal.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for setting goals. Goals are concrete. They’re tangible. They make us feel accomplished when we reach them, and they are a necessary measure of success.
But if goals are a measure of success, then they’re arbitrary unless anchored to a vision.
In other words, what does success look like to you? How do you know your goal is relevant to what you REALLY want to accomplish?
Reaching a goal without defining a vision is like driving 10 miles with no destination in mind. You may have achieved a goal to travel 10 miles, but for what purpose?
You can go 10 miles toward a cliff. You can go 10 miles in a circle. You can be completely off-track, and without a vision, you wouldn’t know it.
Of course, you can’t drive around aimlessly AND with purpose.
But people try to do this with their finances, all the time.
Meaningful Goals Require Purpose
You can have a goal to spend less and save more. Those things are fine. But that’s not a vision.
WHY do you want to save more? WHY do you want to be debt-free? WHY do you want to build wealth?
Your reason needs to have more depth than “So I can go on $20,000 vacations.” or “So I can retire comfortably.” It needs to align with your values, your purpose, and what you want out of life.
Here’s a great example from some awesome clients. This sweet couple had taken a pay cut so that they could spend more time with their children. Their vision was a life that prioritized time with family and supported church missions. However, they weren’t sure how to do that making less money.
I’m not saying THEIR vision has to be yours, but they’re a great example of people who possess strong conviction about their values and priorities. The clear vision they articulated determined their financial goals to get out of debt and increase their giving. They stopped using a credit card, got on a budget, and saved aggressively for a short-term mission trip so they could pay for it in cash instead of accumulating more debt.
If they hadn’t had this vision for their lives, they wouldn’t have had a strong enough emotional motivation to avoid debt, to give more, or to save carefully for the future. They could have aimlessly spiraled into a financial disaster, but the vision dictated their budget, and inspired them to work consistently toward the right goals.
I find in coaching that most of my clients come with a partial vision, but it’s kind of blurry and unfocused at first. They know they hate being in debt, or that they feel stuck in a rut, or that they want MORE from their money and their life.
The vision is there, but it can be tough to articulate.
How to Craft a Vision Which Leads to Meaningful Financial Goals
The great thing is crafting a vision doesn’t need to be complicated or abstract; it just requires willingness to reflect and ask yourself some strategic questions.
Here are some to get you started:
- What do you want your life to look like in 10 years in terms of what you do, where you live, and what you spend your free time doing?
- What passions would you like to have more time for?
- What are your biggest financial stressors, and how would it feel to have that burden lifted? How would it affect your life? (Relationships, emotions, career decisions, etc.)
- What is the event or realization that brought you to coaching (or to decide you NEED to do something about your money)?
- How is NOT living on a budget (or being in debt, not saving, etc.) holding you back? What do you ultimately want to achieve by managing your money better?
- What are your top three values, and do you feel that what you spend your money on reflect these values?
So what is YOUR vision? Do you desire to stay at home with your children, even if it means a pay cut for your family? Do you have a business passion you want to pursue but feel tied down by debt? Do you long for the peace that comes with being in control of where your money is going and knowing you’ll have enough for the future?
It’s great to have financial goals, but it’s ESSENTIAL to define your vision, to ask yourself WHY and answer that question with depth and clarity. This is the one consistent denominator between people who reach their goals and people who fail over and over again. Crafting a strong vision requires self-reflection and effort, but the stronger the vision, the greater the motivation, the more likely you are to succeed.
- How to Determine Your Financial Priorities
- How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse
- The Power and Importance of Written Financial Goals
- 7 Critical Ways Dave Ramsey is Right About Money
Special thank you to Lauren for sharing her insights on the nuances of financial goals! Don’t forget to check out her available coaching services and SaveGiveandSpend.com.
Mrs. Picky Pincher saysJune 28, 2017 at 3:54 PM
I think this is the big difference between having a strategy and having tactics. The strategy is the long-range plan (your “why”) for taking care of bid’ness and the tactics are how you get it done.
Hero saysJune 28, 2017 at 10:52 PM
I think that’s a valid way to look at it, for sure, Mrs. Picky Pincher. For many people, the “why” isn’t strong enough to put the correct tactics in place.