Drawing out meaningful goals

Written by Lisa Pallavi Barbora

Lisa Pallavi Barbora is a Senior Consultant for Content at WFAN. Lisa is also a founder of MoneyPuzzle.in In her earlier avatar, she was a National Writer and Consultant for HT Mint - a premier business journal in India.

August 13, 2021

When we think about the concept of financial goals, immediately thoughts of retirement and children’s education start forming in our minds. However, your financial goals should not be synonymous with retirement and retirement is not the only goal to work towards.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult in today’s times to differentiate your financial goals with your life goals. Your life goals are what represent who you are and what you want to achieve with your time in this life.

If you haven’t started thinking about life in this manner and are simply going about living from one day to the next, then take a pause, think about your life’s desires and chisel away at your financial resources to achieve that.

Retirement is an important part of life, but when you do what you love then retiring from work is never going to be an objective. Rather it will be about sustaining the lifestyle you want with an achievable level of income, active or passive or a combination of both.

How can you define these life goals is the real question?

There is a need to think about life goals in continuation with your basic physiological needs but goals are not just about the functional activities in life.

While you have to consider that your monetary resources go towards providing you food, clothing and a home but you can’t be so fearful about wanting more than just survival, that your savings only cater to this physiological need for now and in future.

What are life goals?

Life goals are about your personal aspirations and the direction you want to move ahead in life.

No longer are people satisfied with just taking up a job and sticking to it and moving on the traditional path of earning, getting married, buying a house and retiring.

The earning journey itself is sporadic and driven by the desire to create rather than simply earn for survival. If that creation is your life goal, then prudent money management has to start early, because you will be risking capital to achieve that dream.

It could be that along with this desire to create you also want to live life in the fast lane in a city where expenses are high. This doesn’t sound like a goal, but it is a short-term goal to be able to live sustainably in a city for a defined period, while simultaneously funding your dream project. This is just an example, there can be many combinations of short term and long-term life goals which have to be management together to achieve balance and harmony in life, beyond just your functional need to survive.

Life goals are affirmations of how you see yourself living now and growing in future.

Why is it important to focus on goals?

Firstly, lets clarify that focusing on goals, doesn’t mean just thinking about them of recognizing them, many individuals benefit by actually writing down goals.

Let’s go back to the goal where you want to live in an expensive city while figuring out your creative start up. If you haven’t defined your desire to live in the city in terms of how much you are willing to spend in a month, you can easily go overboard and rack up a lot of debt. This will not only make the city living hard, but it will also take away from your other life goal of earning by creating your venture. In order to do justice to both these goals, you must write down the dynamics in terms of the monetary value and also the time horizon.

Writing down goals, no matter how trivial they may seem, not only allows you to revisit and alter as per the progress but also it reaffirms the challenge you are willing to undertake to achieve these goals.

Setting goals is also important to attain step by step all the levels of what you want to achieve. For example, you may want to have a startup of your own in the field of education. Your first goal really is to identify the segment in education and the age bracket you are most keen to impact. Then you have to create a product. Making the startup profitable is a goal for much later.

Breaking up your goals into practical, attainable segments, will keep you motivated and help you with feedback on whether you are on the right path or not.

It will also give you a clear road map on how you are going to utilise your monetary resources.

While keeping up with your present goals is important, you have to make space and save for future needs and even contingencies.

All of this sounds like a lot and many risk takers will avoid the entire process of goal setting because of the sheer discipline it requires. However, risks by nature can fail just as easily and not everyone is equipped to pick up the pieces when that happens. Hence, emphasis goal planning can help you move in the direction you desire in the most practical and attainable manner.

Goals are part of everyone’s life, right from what we eat to what time we sleep and how often we call and connect with friends. Many goals are just part of our daily routine, in our subconscious and don’t need to be reinforced.

However, life and financial goals which impact long term outcomes require a little bit more attention from us.

You have to articulate these goals and then care for them till you get closer to achieving them. Charting out your life goals requires an intermingling with your financial goals too and more importantly achieving them requires you to put the spotlight on.   

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