Week 1 – Starting your plan and SMART goal setting
Most of us have plans for the future. Maybe it’s a dream holiday, paying off our debt, retiring early, building up a share portfolio, running a marathon, or saving enough for a house deposit. Some of us will succeed but many of us won’t.
One of the reasons we don’t meet our goals is lack of clarity and planning.
Financial planning is about setting goals and enjoying the journey as well as the destination. It’s about taking pride in the fact that every day, little by little, we are shaping our lifestyle and taking more and more control of our destiny.
In order to feel in control of our finances, we need to get organised. If we want to create and live the life we want, we need to put our own personal financial plan in place and make the necessary changes to turn our dreams into our reality.
Your financial plan will show you what you need to do to get to where you want to go.
What’s your plan?
Planning is about self-realisation and empowerment, and nothing we can do will make us feel better and more secure than that.
Take some time out and ask yourself these questions. Your answers will form the basis of your financial plan.
- What do you value most in life?
- What are your lifestyle plans for the next 3-5 years?
- Where would you like your life to be 10 years from now?
- How would you like to live in retirement?
Time for some SMART goal setting
Just like planning for that long-awaited and well-earned trip, achieving our financial goals requires SMART goal setting.
So what are SMART goals?
Specific – What exactly do I want?
The more detailed you can be about what you want to achieve, the more chance you have of achieving it. For instance, “I want to sail” is pretty vague but “I want to sail in Hamilton Island Race Week in August 2018” is very clear.
Whether you have one goal or many, it helps to break them into different timeframes depending on when you want to achieve them. You might have short term (1-2 years); medium term (2-5 years) and long term (5-20 years) goals.
Measurable – How will I know when I’ve got it?
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? There’s nothing like setting a real, tangible target to focus your mind. “I want an overseas holiday” is pretty wishy-washy, but “I want to save $6,000 for a South African Safari” has the clarity of mind that will help keep you on track.
Achievable – Am I able to do it?
Setting unrealistic goals for yourself will only lead to misery and disappointment. If you’re not used to looking after your money then you’ll need some training and practice. Start small and you’ll get there. Just decide to start!
Realistic – How realistic am I being?
Ok, so you want to cruise around the Mediterranean in luxury for a month, in July 2018. That’s great, but if you haven’t started planning your spending budget, you won’t be going anywhere (using a credit card is not an option). Making sure your goal is realistic is a step in the right direction.
Time – When would I like it to happen?
The secret of making your long-term, five-year plan a reality is breaking it down into smaller bite size chunks. Putting away $20,000 for your three-month tour of South America in five years is a gigantic task, but saving $4,000 a year or $80 a week is very manageable.
Using the SMART system will help you focus on your goals and change them from being aspirational (wouldn’t it be nice) to attainable (it’s going to happen). What a difference it makes when you change from “I want an overseas holiday” to “I will go to Vietnam and Cambodia in 12 months’ time. I will need $4,000 and I will save $80 per week for 50 weeks. I will do this by going out once a week instead of three times a week.”
The first step to realising your financial dreams is to grab a pen and paper and write down your realistic and specific goals. You should be able to come up with one short-term goal and one longer-term goal. Try not to get too excited and have too many goals because you’ll lose focus and it will all become a bit too hard.
Focus on the amazing experiences you will be gifting yourself and reduce your day to day spending on things that don’t enrich your life.
Good luck and Bon Voyage!
Author: Nicole Heales
Nicole Heales is an Authorised Representative (No. 312479) of Capstone Financial Planning Pty Ltd. ABN 24 093 733 969. Australian Financial Services Licence No. 223135.
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