The True Value of Financial Goals

This post is by Shaun of moneycactus.com.

I know what you’re thinking: “just another post about financial goal setting.” Yeah, those are pretty common these days. How much more could I tell you about setting SMART goals, and having them for the short, medium, and long term anyway?

Click! You’re gone … plenty more to read online today.

Financial goals

Copyright Andrey Armyagov - Fotolia.com

It’s a bit of a shame for those that have already left, because I’m not really interested in how you set goals, or the number you have and whether you’ll achieve them before midnight on New Year’s Eve. What I want to know is:

  1. why you set them and
  2. how big they really are.

Forget Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound goals.

Let’s talk about your dreams instead.

How big do you dream?

Alright, time to be honest here: do you dream about being filthy rich and powerful? How about just well off with the nicer things in life? Perhaps you would just be happy to be debt-free and have more choices and freedom?

There is nothing wrong with dreaming about any of these things. It really depends on how big you want to get and where your priorities lie.

What do you value?

Everyone has a core set of values. These are the things that you place the greatest importance on, and are generally what drive you to do the things you do, live the way you live, and be the way you are. It is really important to understand your values when setting goals—particularly financial ones, as they will ultimately dictate the end result.

If we focus on financial goals, then the associated values are the way we think about our time, money, and lifestyle. If you want to be filthy rich, then you probably value money the most. If you want to be well off, then it is likely you value lifestyle, and if you just want to be debt-free to enable greater choice, then you probably place the greatest emphasis on your time.

People often say they value all of these things, which is perfectly fair, but if you really think on it, it is likely that you place greater value on some aspects more than others.

If you are honest with yourself and identify your values, then developing and reaching your financial goals will get a whole lot easier.

To determine your values, have a think about some of the goals you may have set in the past, or some you might set right now. Are they focused around a central theme? If you were to prioritize them, how would the most important one align with money, time, or lifestyle?

Personally I find the best and most telling way is to look at goals that you haven’t achieved in the past. The reason is likely because they didn’t align with your values.

How strong is your belief?

Once you understand your values, you should know how realistic your goals might be. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t try to stretch yourself, but it will help you identify your weaknesses and hopefully improve your resolve if you are truly committed to reaching your goal.

For example: If you value the simple things in life, then a goal to live frugally and save as much as you can might be completely achievable. On the other hand, if you value your creature comforts then this might be a huge stretch.

I think that the ultimate example is the one of becoming filthy rich. After a certain point, having lots of money would cover all of our values wouldn’t it?

  • Rich and powerful? Check.
  • Lifestyle and creature comforts? Check.
  • All the time in the world and lots of choices? Check!

Perfect, right? Well, not really. Unless you win the lottery, you still need to commit to a path that allows you to reach this goal and it will not align with the values of everyone. In fact, it is likely to align with the values of very few because often it means taking big risks with the money you have, committing to a plan without wavering (i.e. having very little choice), and living on less in order to invest more.

The goal of becoming filthy rich therefore seems to be unattainable because no one has values that align with the goal. I’m not going to lie to you—this is a pretty tough goal and not one that many truly want anyway, because they’d have to stretch all of their values at the same time in order to achieve the desired outcome. If this is a goal of yours, then understanding your values and how they will impact your financial goal setting will greatly improve your chance of success. If it is not your goal, you should still think about ways in which you can try to stretch your values and dream as big as you dare.

If you place strong importance on your immediate family/children/closest friends, you might set a goal to double your income in the next 12 months in order to allow your partner to give up their job and stay home with the kids or enrol the kids in a private school/drama classes/music lessons or fly ten of your closest friends to Bali for a party.

Ultimately, your goals need to be about you. Why else would you set them? Find out what you value and your goal setting will get a whole lot easier.

So, what do you value? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Shaun is not an accountant, financial planner or life coach, but he writes about wealth creation anyway! Shaun’s motto is “Make wealth, not money,” which fits quite nicely with where he wants to be in life. You can find out more by visiting his blog where he shows you how to do nothing and grow wealthy.

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Comments

  1. Your website is really a feelgooder. I will refer you site to my family and friends. This article was a treat. Thanks

  2. Amazing article!

    So many people focus on just acquiring as much money as they can, without trying to align their personal values, let alone defining what their true goal would be. As you said, nobody would say no to being filthy rich but few would actually become the person they would need to be to achieve this. I never thought about wealth creation in these terms, yet now it seems so obvious!

    Now I know that I need to consider my lifestyle and values and the impact they will have just as much as any financial choices I make.

    Thank you!

    • Hey Hannah,

      I’m really pleased that you were able to take so much away from this. I’m pretty passionate about overall wealth creation, so it is great to see others that feel the same way.

  3. I still can’t work out what I want from life 🙁 it seems to be constantly changing. I make more money than most people, yet I’m still in debt and still never manage to save anything. Sigh.

    • Hey Ryan,

      Don’t sweat it mate, these things take time and evolve. Get back to the basics of a really simple budget and identifying things to save for. Saving for the sake of it is no fun, you needs goals to keep you on track. Spending more than you earn obviously doesn’t make you happy, so find out what does and focus on that instead.

      Good luck!

  4. I like your post. I like your byline at the end. I am a financial planner, and even though you say you are not, your are right on. I’m sure we agree, that a little tittle such as financial planner or coach isn’t what’s required to share great wisdom.

    To answer your question, I value being able to do what I’m passionate able and only doing what I feel good about–what feels ethical. It is very easy to make money. Doing it with freedom and feeling you are doing it ethically is work.

  5. Hey Chuck,

    Thanks for the complement and thanks for sharing too. I really like your values, keep doing what feels good!

  6. agreed. thats why also when starting a business, one needs to be clear of the goals: (1) is this business for generating money or (2) is this business my passion?

    once the business is our passion, we will put our all into it, and we will be happy waking up everyday to work on the business. of course there is all the prudent management etc involved, but if you are passionate about it, the profit will come in!

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