There is still time.
We are almost 75% of the way through 2017. How that happened, I don't know. Realising where we are made me assess my year so far. One of my goals for the year was to attend one extra CrossFit session each week - I do two personal training sessions a week, and wanted to make it to one group class. Well, on the first day of September it happened. I made it to a Friday class and have been four weeks in a row. So it took me almost three-quarters of the year, but I did it. And it feels good! It's never too late to start on a goal.
I have long believed in the power of the mind. I honestly believe that we can achieve anything if we have the right mindset. Science has started to prove this by showing that we can rewire our brains by forming new behaviours and habits - it's called neuroplasticity. It has some powerful implications in how we set and achieve our goals.
When it comes to money, goals are important but they are not enough. Setting a goal such as 'I will start saving, or start investing, or have x in my investment account in ten years' is a step, but the goal has to have some meaning. Otherwise it has no motivation for us. I recently came across this article which talks through ten steps (below) to achieving your goals which will change your life.
"One of the most powerful processes we can utilise as we go through life is to consciously work out our own personal purpose and meaning in life, articulating a personal vision and then setting goals to achieve that vision."
I love how this quote applies to money. I think that one of the most important exercises that we can do around our money is to understand the purpose for our money. What is the money for? WHO is the money for? It's important to realise that investing itself is not the end, it's the means to the end, but you have to know what the end is. Otherwise, money itself becomes a pursuit and it becomes about 'more more more'. And pursuing money for money's sake doesn't make people happy. It's about understanding what that money is for. That's the purpose and the vision.
A compelling vision is what propels us forwards, creates the passion and keeps us on track. We really need that when it comes to our money because only then can we really know what we want from our money. That vision might be to quit the day job, go back to school and study, or learn to paint in Tuscany, or spend six months of the year in a chalet in the mountains. What I tend to find is that most people have never really thought about the vision.
"Articulating our life purpose and having conscious goals to work towards create energy for change and give us momentum. Often our goals can change through our life journey. Whether we achieve those particular goals or not, or whether our goals change, it is important to note "success is a journey, not a destination"."
This is really true of financial planning. It's a journey, with a changing destination because we never really know what life is going to throw at us. Where we want to go, and who we want to be changes as we move through life. We need our money to support us in that journey.
So, here are the authors ten steps to achieving your goals and they apply beautifully to your money.
- Let's start the journey.
- Where you are right now.
- Create a compelling vision for your future.
- Write your personal vision statements.
- Write your personal action plan.
- Take action and monitor your progress
- Make use of a range of valuable tools and techniques.
- Celebrate your successes along the way.
- Evaluate and take stock.
- Where to from here.
1, and 2. Starting is the hardest part with anything, and when it comes to taking control of your money, it's particularly so. The emotional stakes are so high - 'I should have more', 'I should be better at this' - there are feelings of guilt, blame, resentment...you name it. But we can only start from where we are, and at some point, you need to have an honest assessment of where that is. And it's actually pretty easy to do, because the numbers don't lie.
3, 4 and 5. The vision for your life will make managing your money inspiring. And once you have the vision, the action plan is easy to follow, because it means something.
6. But then you actually have to ACT. The action is the commitment to yourself, to those that you love, and to your dreams.
7. There are so many tools now online to help you, but, honestly, having someone to hold you accountable, a partner who is your advocate and who will guide you and coach you through all of the ups and downs of life, is (I believe) the most valuable tool*.
8. Whether the success is saving your first $1000 or reaching $1m in your investment portfolio, it is absolutely worth celebrating.
9, and 10. At least once a year, you need to look at your plan and readjust the sails.
If 2017 was the year you planned to take control of your money, take control of your investments or just create a sense of clarity around your money, then it's not too late. There's still a little over 25% of the year to go.
*I would love to be that person in your life. If you want to start the journey, drop me a line.