The dilemma of realistic financial goals

“Should our goals be realistic?” asked one participant on the opening night of my DIY Wealth Creation course last Wednesday.

They had just completed an exercise defining all the important life experiences, achievements and objects they’d like to have enough money for. This exercise is about defining the purpose of their wealth creation.

Many of us would have come across the traditional SMART goal setting technique where the R stands for ‘realistic’ and the A for ‘achievable’, so it was a good clarifying question.

“I have trouble defining realistic“, I answered. “For me, I next contemplate if I am prepared to do what it will take to achieve that goal.”

In my financial planning work I often find that people prematurely censor and filter out their financial and lifestyle goals, usually because they don’t think they are realistic.

I believe that money is one means necessary to facilitate the life I’d love to live. Therefore I believe in first defining that vision and then setting about investigating what it may take to achieve it.

I’ll occasionally drop a part of that vision as my values evolve and it is no longer important enough to me any more. I’ll also occasionally drop a goal when it becomes apparent that what it will take to achieve I am not prepared to do.

Is it realistic to set a financial and lifestyle goal of becoming a billionaire? Well many have achieved it from nothing, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg achieved it in his 20s.

Many of the goals that spring to your mind may not be statistically probable, but usually they are also not impossible. If it is is truly important to you decide to investigate what it will take to achieve that goal. Then consider if you are prepared to do what it will take. Only then can you make an informed decision of what is realistic and achievable.

2 thoughts on “The dilemma of realistic financial goals

  1. Interestingly, I just read a related blog post on BNET by Laura Vanderkam, titled, “4 Words Your Should Never Say”. The four words are “I don’t have time”. Instead, Vanderkam says a more accurate statement would be “It’s not a priority”. In other words, for most of the things we “don’t have time for”, that’s only because we don’t consider them important enough. I think you’ve said exactly the same thing, Matt, when asking whether you’re willing to do what it takes.

    1. Thanks for sharing that link Gihan, I agree . Whether I am willing to do what it will take is totally influenced by my hierarchy of values – the prioritisation of those things that are important to me.

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