Fall is officially here! And what a better way to kick off a beautiful season than with a cheesy articleJ I don’t claim to be a life coach by any means (and I know a great one if you’d like an introduction!), but as advisers we do realize that there are key principles in life that hold just as true and relevant in the financial world.
First, it’s extremely important to set realistic goals for yourself. In life, that could be a career goal, or maybe you want to further your knowledge or education. Maybe you want to create new relationships or improve the current relationships in your life. It could also be a fitness or health goal. No matter what it is, if you set a goal so unbelievably high that it’s unachievable, then will you really believe you can hit it? If you want to lose 60 lbs. in two weeks, (though I’m sure that would be quite the accomplishment) will you be motivated to take the right steps, when in reality, it may not even be possible?
We’ve all heard this many times before, but probably because it’s true!! Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This means you need to be able to clearly spell them out, they must mean something to you, you must be able to build a plan of attack and track your progress over a certain time period.
The same goes for your financial goals, short-term and long-term. If you want to save up to buy a home and determine you need $50,000 for a down payment, but you only have $10,000 and plan to buy this home in two months, can you really save $40,000 in two months?
If your goal is to retire early, do you have the income and budget today to follow a savings plan to get you there? Is that savings plan realistic and feasible?
If your goals are smart and realistic, then you’ve put yourself in a good position to successfully achieve them, but now you have to be consistently disciplined in following the plan and hold yourself accountable throughout the process.
Now, as we all know, life will always throw you curve balls. You may experience an illness that throws you off your fitness routine, or maybe work becomes more hectic and begins to take time away from the relationships in your life. No matter the obstacle, when you get off track- don’t throw everything to the wind and give up. You have to be resilient! Sometimes being resilient means weathering the short-term storm and getting back to the plan as soon as the storm passes. In other situations, being resilient means you have to push through and stick with the plan even through the bad seasons in our lives.
It’s important in times of struggle to reflect on your goals from a big picture perspective and remind yourself why you set them in the first place.
If it’s important enough, then even through times when your savings plan is tested, you’ll stay the course. It could take a little more time at work to make up the extra money or you may need to pull some funds from your “fun money” account to supplement your savings. Point being- if your goals are personal and you are resilient, you can achieve them.
The last & most important point: Control the “controllables”. This is something we can all probably relate to. We want to be in control, and often times, the things in life we worry about the most are the things we can’t control.
You can’t control where our country is in the economic and business cycle, or what the Fed is going to do with interest rates. You can’t control all aspects of our country’s political climate (obviously you can exercise your right to vote), but there are many decisions and actions taken in government that we have no control over.
You can’t control the volatility of the market or when the next correction or market crash comes, but you CAN control how much money you’re saving. You can control how much risk you’re taking and you can also control the investment strategy or the adviser you work with to help you fulfil your long-term investment goals.
So, don’t get caught up in the news, or stress yourself out by focusing too much on market fluctuations, and focus on the things you can control. As I mentioned, sometimes taking control means using a trusted professional to take control for or with you. Working with a financial professional that can help you build smart goals is a great way to take that first step.
Till next time,
ZakCategories: Educational Articles, Zak Leedom