Thursday, 27 August 2015

HOW TO SET CLEAR FINANCIAL GOALS


Tectono Business Review believes that one major reason why many people have challenges making smart financial choices is due to lack of clear financial goals. Without clear financial goals, it is almost impossible to save and invest consistently; you will always find excuses not to. If there is no strong enough reason why you have to do it, it is very difficult to maintain any course of action long enough to witness desired results in virtually any field of human endeavour.

We virtually run on goals. We are all going somewhere, even if you have no clue where that is. Let’s use an analogy to explain this. If you are an employee or businessman and you leave home Monday morning, the goal is to get to the office. If you pack a suitcase and head for the airport or Motor Park, the goal is to travel to a certain destination. This destination is determined before leaving home, not at the airport or park. If you uproot the two goal posts from a football field, you cannot call what you do there subsequently a football match. There is no way to keep score. Sadly, when it comes to the most important game of all – the game of life, many have no goals. They wake up in the morning and start running without a clue where they are heading to. Many have no career goals, health and fitness goals, relationship goals, social goals, spiritual goals etc. They just look at what others around them are doing and mimic them.

Where are you heading financially?
This is a very important question. One fall out of this general state of lack of goal is the lack of clear financial goals. A clear financial goal sets the context for your financial decision. In economics, we were taught a term called opportunity cost – the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. When you do not have unlimited financial resources, you are forced to spend based on priority.

When you have no clear financial goals, you cannot determine what is more important. You end up spending based on what presses most on you. The need that shouts the most gets attended to no matter how relatively unimportant it is. You are basically on reaction mode.
It is painful to watch people who are struggling financially making unwise financial decisions, thereby compounding their financial situation. You go to an event to find that most of those wearing ‘asoebi’ are folks who cannot really afford it, are having issues with paying school fees, rent etc. If you look at the crowd heading to summer camp, you find folks that have defaulted in debt repayment. Most of our financial pressures are self-imposed.

Basically everyone would like to get their finances in shape. Most are genuinely trying, but do not seem to be able to figure out how. One challenge Tectono Business Review finds in most cases is that they have not really sat down to decide what their priorities are. They have not determined what is most important to them. They have not sat down to determine where they are going. In all fairness, if you are not clear where you are going, when you get to a junction, you will be confused. You may have suffered the temporary misfortune of being behind a driver who is not sure where he is going. Apart from driving annoyingly slow, he will freeze at the junction trying to decide which way to go, holding up those behind.

What is most important to you?
We are faced with an enormous amount of pressure from the environment to act a certain way, dress a certain way, own certain things, among others. If you do not have an inner compass directing you by way of clear goals and sense of direction, you start to respond to the pressure.

Why are people struggling financially, complaining and murmuring? For most, it is because they have not decided what is really important – what they really want. If you find a strong enough reason why, you will go through the process.

At some point, you need to sit down and really decide what is truly important to you. What is your strongest desire? Which goal will make the most impact in your life if you achieve it? How much do you need to put down to make it happen or get you going? That may be a clue for your financial goal. How do you want 2015 to end financially for you in financial terms? What income, portfolio size etc. do you want to shoot for? Be specific, put the numbers down. What do you need to do, starting now to make it happen? That is called a plan. Put it into action. You may step on toes along the way. That may be part of the price you have to pay if you want to move from where you are to where you want to go.