“Setting Financial Goals for 2021″
The thought of new year’s resolutions makes some people cringe. Imagine what our 2020 goals looked like in January of last year compared to what actually happened. While we may not have as crazy of a year in 2021, having some intentions entering the new year can be helpful.
I don’t think that resolutions are inherently bad, but I have found that they tend to be hopeful statements of achievement rather than clearly defined written down plans that are aligned with someone’s values. For example, you can have someone with a sweet tooth, who has made countless resolutions to eat less chocolate in years gone by. Usually, it ends in frustration and further consumption of chocolate to ease the frustration. I view “goals” differently. For me, goals are aligned with something I want to accomplish, not something I’m giving up. It might sound like a subtle difference, but it has been profound for me. So, how can we set some financial goals (not resolutions) as we kick off 2021?
Define Your Values
“Why is money important to you?” It’s a question that I use every once in a while in new client meetings because it’s important to understand someone’s background with money and why it’s important to them. Perhaps the answer is security, freedom, or giving back. Beneath these values are usually deeply held convictions that were taught and caught from an early age and which now manifest in why we see money the way we do. I encourage you to think about your answer to this question and how your goals can be aligned to your values of why money is important to you.
Separate Short Term and Long Term
Once you have a better grip on the “why” behind your money goals and values you can begin to set some short-term goals (1 to 3 years) and long-term goals (3 + Years). Separating your goals into short- and long-term time frames helps us to see progress quickly without forgetting the future. If all your goals for the year are long term goals, then it can feel like you accomplished nothing when December rolls around even if you’ve nailed all of your check points throughout the year.
Have a few goals you can accomplish during the year as well as some that will take you into 2022 and beyond. The reality is, it’s really “goal guessing” when we enter the realm of long-term goals. Who really knows what’s ahead in 10, 15, 20 years’ time? So, rather than trying to have perfectly articulated long-term goals, just be prepared by making educated goal guesses for the long-term and then make adjustments along the way.
Writing down your goals is one thing but monitoring progress and remaining accountable to your goals is a whole other goal in itself. Most people know what it would take for them to stay on track for their goals, but they find the accountability a scary thing. Assuming everyone has at least one person in their life that they feel comfortable sharing their financial goals with, I would encourage you to do just that. Share what you want to accomplish and then agree on a regular cadence of “check-ins” throughout the year to monitor progress. The idea isn’t to name and shame if you are off track on your goals, but rather to adjust throughout the year so you can achieve incremental progress over the long term.
Take some time in these first weeks of January to consider what your financial goals are for 2021. Make sure those goals are aligned with your values and beliefs around money and then set a structure of sharing and accountability for your goals so that you monitor progress and achieve results by the end of the year!
Remember, there will ALWAYS be uncertainty, but talk to a professional and put a plan in place to ensure you are set up for the swings and roundabouts the market is sure to throw your way.