Financial Managers

Abacus Planning Group

2500 Devine Street

Columbia, SC 29205

Phone: 803.933.0054

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Jon Robertson

As a financial advisor, I serve my clients best when I have a deep sense of their goals and values. Setting aside time to formalize goals and values is the first step to achieving long-term and short-term goals.
Goal setting is powerful. In a study on the power of setting goals, Dr. Gail Matthews found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down. Looking ahead, visualizing a goal, being detailed about that vision, and writing down specific goals sets your brain in motion to work through how to accomplish your goals. When thinking through your goals, these best practices will lead to better outcomes: visualizing, asking yourself questions, and embracing goal writing.

Visualize and Be Specific
Close your eyes and think about what each goal means to you. If you are a visual person, you may want to draw what you see. Be as specific as possible. As an example, “I want to retire in five years,” is much less gripping than, “In five years I want to be able to live off my savings. I want to use my extra time and energy to take trips with my family, visit my grandchildren, volunteer at my church, play tennis with my friends, and explore our state parks.” Imagine what achieving that goal will look like for you; visualizing is a powerful tool to help you clarify and achieve your goals.

What if You Struggle Setting Goals?
If you have difficulty creating goals, the following questions might help:
It’s five years from now. You’re healthy and happy and you’ve just had the perfect day. What does that look like? Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with?
You just went to the doctor and were told that you have a terminal illness and only have a few years to live. The silver lining is that you will feel fine and have your energy for the rest of your life. What would you change or start doing differently?
Try listing some of your natural talents. How would you like to use these gifts to help others? How would you like to use these gifts to help yourself?

Ask Open-Ended Questions
An open-ended question invites a thoughtful response and cannot be answered “yes” or “no.” Some examples are:
Imagine you have accomplished this goal, what does that look like? What is different? What is better? What changed so that you could achieve the goal? Who can help you achieve the goal? Did you have to change your spending habits to achieve this particular goal?

Talk to Your Family
If you are married, you and your spouse may want to go through a goal setting exercise together, or you may want to do them separately and then discuss. These conversations are energizing. A partner may be able to help you with accountability or help you clarify what you want. Sometimes you have goals (or you and your family have goals) that require thoughtful allocation of resources and prioritization. When you have these conversations, it becomes easier to ensure you are on the same page and have a plan in place.
The final step is to write down each goal and review regularly. Having clear, detailed plans in place can help put your mind at rest and allow you to more easily accomplish what you wish to achieve in life, both financially and personally.