How Defining Meaningful Goals Transforms Your Financial Life
Rediscovering purpose setting meaningful financial goals
WHEN you were a kid, I’m sure a lot of people asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up. And as you entered school, the question changed to what career you wanted to pursue.
It was exciting to answer these questions, primarily because we had the freedom to choose among many possibilities; to decide which direction we want to go in life.
However, upon graduation and as we begin to work in our chosen profession, which signals the completion of our young dreams, we start to pursue new goals of a different nature. Slowly, we begin to desire material stuff more instead of long-term goals. And as a result, we start to drift through life rather than blaze ahead.
Most people I’ve asked have a vague idea of what they really want for their future. Perhaps because they stopped asking themselves those questions that they heard too often as a child. And while seemingly unrelated, this has actually become one of the reasons why most people go down on a spiral of uncontrollable debt and spending; and commit bad financial decisions.
Without meaningful goals to pursue, they easily get distracted. They start spending needlessly on short-term pleasures and begin living from paycheck to paycheck just to chase momentary enjoyment.
People without goals waste days pursuing the latest trends: working to buy that new gadget, wearing that new fashion, being seen in that new club. They become so preoccupied by these distractions they forget to think about what they really want out of life and how they want their future to be.
I used to be that way too. Fortunately, upon realizing that my life may be comfortable but not really going anywhere, I began to set long-term goals. And by that I mean specific and concrete goals; and not just abstract ideas of what I want.
You must be thinking—“Hey, I do have goals! I’m saving up to buy a car and a house. Those are goals, right?”
Well, is that want you really want? I’m saying this because I’ve met too many people commit the mistake of working on goals that they don’t really want but still pursue because that’s what society expects of them to achieve. Goals such as finding a job and then getting a promotion, buying a car and a big house, then getting married and raising a family.
Find some quiet time to ask yourself what do you really want. This is essential to avoid the mistake of drifting through life. So you can stop working on goals that have low value with respect to your self-fulfillment and happiness.
Set aside society’s expectations and other people’s opinion, and ask yourself—if given the choice, what would you rather do? What would you rather buy with your money? What goals would you be proud to achieve in life?
A friend asked himself these questions, and shared to me that all he could imagine was traveling with his wife and kids, enjoying different sights, food, and culture. They’ll go on out-of-town adventures to discover new places and bond as a family in that experience. However, when I asked if he’s working to achieve that goal, he confessed that he’s currently just saving to build a dream house for his family.
“Why aren’t you saving for a travel fund too?” I inquired.
“Well, it’s not really a financial priority,” he replied.
“And yet, you say that it’s what you hopefully want to do in the future,” I said. “And if so, then it should make sense to include it in your financial priorities.”
That made him think and, more concretely, change his perspective.
A couple of weeks after, he called me to say that his wife agreed with him when he suggested that they could instead, just buy a modest home and not spend anymore on building their own.
Moreover, they also agreed to dine out less often, and eat more meals at home. They also decided to find less expensive but as fulfilling weekend activities for their family—like having picnics at the park, rather than spending the afternoon shopping and watching movies in cinemas.
With the surplus of money that they’re expecting to save, they are now excited to finally have those out-of-town family trips, which they plan to do at every six months starting next year.
Set aside time to answer those questions too. It is guaranteed to be an eye-opener, and will surely give you a greater sense of purpose. It will renew that lost excitement that you had in your youth. And more importantly, it will help you make better financial decisions.
Fitz Villafuerte is a Filipino entrepreneur, investor and a Registered Financial Planner.
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