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Your Simple Financial Plan- Part 2- The Power of Goals and Values

November 12, 2013


I don’t know about you, but I love reading stories of reinvention.  The burned-out corporate lawyer who became a happy dairy farmer.  The newly divorced mother of three who started a childcare business to provide for her family.  These stories are even more inspiring when they happen later in life.  Like the 56 year old, overweight car salesman who took up running and completed his first ever 10km run.  While it’s never too late to achieve a dream,  it does take planning, courage, hard work and, often, financial resources.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…C.S. Lewis

Goals are the “destinations” along the roadmap of your life, while values are the principles that you want to live by.  When you’re not sure where you’re going, it’s tough to know which path to take when the road forks.  And, without some financial resources, it’s even harder to take a new path.

When I left my corporate job, I knew I wanted to do something different but I had no idea what that was.  I had always loved the idea of being an interior designer. Thinking through this option, I realized that I wasn’t willing to take courses nor did I have the basic talent or creativity to be successful.  Be realistic, but don’t shy away from a stretch goal that you’re passionate about.

Sometimes, we’re not sure about our priorities until we get into a situation that puts them to the test.  In one of my past jobs, I found myself involved in a project that compromised my honesty and integrity.  I was miserable, stressed and eventually realized how important these values were to me.  Once the light bulb went on, it became easier to decide how to move forward.

Unsure of your goals?  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1)  What do you want your life to look like in 5, 10, 20 years and beyond?

2)  What things are most important to you?

3)  What can’t you live without?

4)  How would you spend your time if you didn’t need to work for money?

Once you identify your goals, pick a few and come up with a plan.  Some early successes under your belt will empower you to keep on track.  Keeping your goals top of mind makes it easier to come up with a spending plan.  And, when you spend money on things that matter to you, your life gets happier!

One of my own goals today is to travel more.  Specifically, I’d like to take 2-3 trips/yr for the next 10 years.  My husband and I did next to no travelling in our 20’s, 30’s and even early 40’s so we’re in “withdrawal” mode. We have put together a new budget that reflects more spending on travel and less spending on “stuff”.  My husband surprised me the other day by saying he’s thinking of trading in his car.  I almost fell off my chair- he loves his car!  He explained that moving to a cheaper, smaller but reliable car would save on insurance, gas and maintenance.  We would transfer these savings to our annual travel budget. Perhaps not significant today but, over time, might give us a little better quality or quantity of travel.   How brilliant; I knew I married him for a reason!   Amazing that he came up with this idea on his own (no prompting from me)!

Still need help with your goals?  Try out these two worksheets.  Fill out the Values worksheet first.  Then, transfer your most important values into goals and get specific.

Getting clear about your values and goals is the first step in creating a meaningful financial plan.  Give it a try- it might be easier than you think.

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