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A Path to Setting and Reaching Your Financial Goals

What if you focused on your system instead of just your goals?

Planning Featured

Financial planning for the new year can feel overwhelming. We all know that resolutions don’t last, but we also feel the energy that comes with a new year of investment possibilities. Here’s a clearer path for setting and reaching your goals.

Many of us love complex investment management processes. The intricacies of a large spreadsheet really get our brains going, and we can spend lots of time deeply analyzing financial questions. Maybe.

But when we try to apply the same level of study to setting goals, it never works out. We try spreadsheets and software and Gantt charts to lay out goals in detailed sequences, and it just doesn’t click. We never understand why.

What is Your System?

Maybe it’s time to try something different, like what is passed along in personal coach James Clear’s excellent writings on setting aside goals to focus on systems, in which he discusses the difference between goals and systems.

“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship,” Clear writes. “Your system is what your team does at practice each day. If you’re a writer, your goal is to write a book and your system is the writing schedule you follow each week. If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million-dollar business and your system is your sales and marketing.

“Now for the really interesting question,” he adds. “If you completely ignored your goals and focused only on your system, would you still get results?”

Yes, says Clear, who can help spark new thinking in us regarding this year’s goal setting. Let’s create our own goal-setting template with just three short sets of questions.

Review 2022’s Successes

What did you accomplish in 2022? Personally? Professionally? What were the year’s successes?

Large and small, all your successes build toward your long-term vision. Put your achievements on paper and remind yourself what you did accomplish last year. We all dwell on what we didn’t accomplish more than on what we did, so take a few minutes to counter that natural tendency and prime your goal-setting mechanisms.

Plan 2023’s Successes

What would you like to accomplish in 2023? Personally? Professionally?

Give your imagination some space and think about what you want to be done by the time you sit down at your desk in the first week of 2023 and look back at another successful year. Write down these 2023 goals and think about how you’ll feel when those turn into accomplishments on 2023’s success list.

What do You Need to Succeed?

What do you need to do to accomplish your 2023 goals? Skills to learn? Habits to acquire?

Put the first page on your left and put the second page on your right. Place the third page, with these questions, in the middle and let your brain connect your positive past to your envisioned future. What must you do to make those goals a reality?

What habits and skills do you need to develop? What connections do you need to make? What activities should you try? Like Clear advises, focus on systems and habits.

Most of us love setting goals and thinking about the future. But our biggest area of improvement could be building systems that support those goals and the positive changes we want to make. Focus on building positive habits toward the goals that you seek for yourself, your family, and your business.

The System I Can Provide

As your financial advisor and fiduciary, I can help you with the system.

Part 1 is getting organized. The primary tool we use is MoneyGuidePro to integrate all of your finances into a single portal.

Part 2 is using the portal. We can work together to set your financial goals, review your estate plan, and create an investment model, but it's up to you to review your data at least monthly in order to keep the system updated in between meetings.

Part 3 is accountability. Financial planning takes a commitment. You can't just set your goals in January and expect everything to work out by December. Acknowledge your successes, learn from the difficulties, meet with your financial planner quarterly, and make course corrections.

I look forward to celebrating your 2023 successes.

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