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How to Plan Your Financial Goals in the Most Powerful Way

SMARTER GOALS to Plan Your Financial Goals In the Most Powerful Way

Did you know that only 8% of people achieve the resolutions that they made at the beginning of the year?Only 75% of those who set goals, follow it through with them after the end of the first week of that particular year! 25% of people stop looking at the goal, just after the first week of the beginning of the new year!


The Purpose of this blog is:

  1. To give the background as to why people fail in their goals
  2. What are the different methods and ideas behind successful goal setting?
  3. How you can easily set up your goals using our templates.
  4. How would goal setting bring joy and happiness in your life using this process?
  5. What are the possible pitfalls to avoid while making your goals?

If you are making your financial goal and want to know the most efficient and powerful ways to do so, this blog is for you. 

Is it that people make resolutions, especially those who make accurate decisions, are more likely to meet the goals than those individuals who do not make their decisions explicitly clear!

How many times have you known that, perhaps, you failed at the goals, which you set so earnestly and dedicatedly? Could you gauge, your enthusiasm level going go up or down after you set about working towards your new targets? Did you come to know if you succeeded or failed?
Did you have some system in place to track your progress? Did you decide, how you would come to know about reaching the goal in a particular time?
Did you “visualize” the end of your goal in mind before beginning?

In my experience, I have found that setting aside time to create a plan based on goals is the key to success.

The success experienced by taking my advice came to my clients, regardless of how much wealth they had created!

Similarly, the failure of all those clients was attributed to the simple reason that they did not have a follow-up plan and surprisingly, that was not related to their wealth!

Let’s first explore the background, on the success and failure reasons, for goal-setting.

Is it that goals are those illusions, which keep us in a delusionary world, while we waste our precious time?

Some powerful strategies for goal setting are:

  1. The goal is an outcome of a strategic and dedicatedly done activity. Hence, what we need to have are well-informed habits.
  2. Hence, what we need to have are well-informed habits.If we do certain right and well thought out process, then we will get a positive result which will culminate into something which we desire or want.
  3. Someone wrote a master’s thesis at an American University in 1953 on goal setting. The research revealed that only 3 percent of the students had written lifetime goals. Later, in 1973, 20 years later, when the researcher checked with the surviving members of the class of 1953 and found that only 3 percent of students with written goals made more income than all the rest of the class put together.  An excellent example of how your brain will organize your behavior to achieve a target.
  4. Strange, that personal finance is only 20 percent head knowledge, and the other 80 percent is all about behavior. No magic number will change your life, no interest rate or rate of return that will suddenly turn everything around. That is why I teach concepts, not mathematical formulas.
  5. Habits make up around ninety percent of your behavior.
  6. List the bad ones and make a commitment to turn them into positive, supportive habits. Write them down and publish the new, healthy habits around your home and workplace. Note the difference they make to the quality and success of your life.
  7. Focus on what matters to you– making budgets and finding solutions for your financial issues does not need to look back into your past!
    1. While driving, do you look in the rear view mirror to see where you are going? only look in the rear view mirror to see only partially and not all the time. So, why keep looking at your past mistakes and your bad spending habits when making plans?
    2. The past only tells you what you have done in the past and is of little use when you need more energy and resources for your future goals.
    3. Have you or your partner or spouse, ever made financial mistakes in the past? You may look at it only, to find out the related errors. Then, use your past only for information. Your past mistakes or where you have invested in the past, should not be your focus while you move forward.
  8. Focus on what you can control: Can you control what is happening in the economy of Greece, China or the federal rates of the USA or the demonetization drive of Modi Ji? If not, then why focus or talk about anything which you cannot control?
    1. How much money you spend can be a controlling factor. Some of our family expenses are fixed. Like, necessary household expenses grocery transportation, mobile, the internet, fuel, house maintenance, house rent. Certain discretionary categories like lifestyle expenses or eating out, dining out, clothes. These expenses are something that you can control. Besides, you can control shopping expenses too.
  9. Do you first make a list of all such behavior list (Download our sample tracking report for expenses: the-advantage-expenditures-tracking-report-for-2017where you can save money? Keeping your goals in mind, share a list of all these expenses, with your family members, which can perhaps, be reduced. Discuss with them about what can be reduced to avoid or discipline or cut in future so as to create control over your lifestyle expenses.
    1. Skipping an expensive coffee can be a small item to keep in mind when you are trying to control costs. Immediately saving that amount into your liquid fund can create a habit towards building of focus.
    2. Furthermore, gifting during family vacations or friend meets or business events can be controlled by giving a more meaningful gift rather than an expensive gift, does save you a little money over a period.
  10. Focus on your future now– while your past investment decisions may have been your decisions, but your future financial state is going to be determined by what decisions you take today. As you cannot change the past, but look forward to a better well-planned future, then why not create a new experience for yourself.Just that feeling to prepare better for the future will bring that joy and happiness which no money can buy. 

In India, working in a corporate gives you the excellent opportunity to automatically save 12% of your basic salary every month called as EPF. Here, your employer also contributes an equal percentage that is 12% every month in your retirement planning. The corpus, thus created is a tax-free corpus. This is an excellent plan, to allow you to focus on your future, automatically. 

  1. Your belief– If you wish to believe, that goal-based financial planning is possible, then the key to successful change lies in your belief system. Think that you can control and focus on your finances. Believe that you can change your financial life if you have found this key. Read more on how to change your false beliefs towards money on our blog.
  2. Action Plan– just belief system will not change anything. With goal-based financial planning,  you need to have a plan with a schedule. Then, with a plan, you should review and track your progress periodically. Discussions on frequent intervals with your financial planner on these matters will bring you close to managing your finances. Like you plan your vacations, for your family,  is your business. A consistent and disciplined approach will bring you greater healed and rewards in short and a long time too.
  3. Being passionate about your goals and then having a plan too, will help you to reach your financial milestones. However, if have start with a focused approach for your goals, then you are more prepared. A personalized plan will bring greater rewards than having no plan at all.
This may be termed as the underlying philosophy for personal finance leading to successful financial planning based on goals.

Here are some techniques for setting up SMARTER goals which are effective and time proven.

Many leaders have talked about the smart approach to goals. Here, I would add additional definitions of smart goal and present a new way to look at developing your personalized smart goals.

If you have a clear goal, and you want to be clear about what you are trying to achieve, you may like to measure it. Furthermore, to ensure that it is a realistic, achievable and relevant goal for you, then align them with your long-term vision also. Then,  it should have an endpoint to confirm whether you have done it or not!

An ideal financial planner should help his clients with this method of smart goal setting,  in the first place. Then, break down the long-term goals for evaluation on these lines. The smart goal process contributes to identifying the appropriate and realistic goal of the progress tracking system with feedback and accountability,  being the key value propositions from the financial planner.

So, the main advantages of taking the help of a financial planner are to help you to break down the big elephant sized goals into small bits. Little pieces,  which are smart goals,  which can be set,  monitored,  tracked and achieved within the time frame. Tools to measure the smart goals are offered by the financial planner to track your progress so that you are ready for accountability partnership scale with your financial planner. This will bring smooth implementation as well as gentle coaching from the financial planner. It can be yours, is a significant value addition from the financial planner and one of the unique propositions to help you achieve your goals in a unique way.

Now, let’s look deeper at goal setting. Some mechanisms or some process for your goal achievement does help. So, here is The Taresh SMARTER GOAL Method (TTSGM):

Move from SMART to SMARTER goals.

Below is an old school of thought:

Here, is a new school of thought:

The Taresh SMARTER GOAL Method (TTSGM):


So, organize your future objectives efficiently the SMARTER way as follows:

  1. Specific-make your goal specific and definite about why you want to achieve that purpose. Find out how being specific will make a difference in your life. Specific bit size goals should be identified.
  2. Measurable– how will you be able to measure the progress of your goal. Studies have found that unless you have the right tool or some measurement method, that you have achieved this goal, you may not be motivated enough, to work towards that particular goal. Setting up of some tracking system will help you to know that the purpose has been achieved. A goal monitoring system is used, to track the progress towards achieving each of the goals is in place.
  3. Attainable– is your goal achievable or is it just a wish your just a dream. Is it possible within the available resources? Awesome resources are there to help you and assist you to achieve this goal. You would get the feel of reaching this goal which is realistic and achievable.
  4. Realistic– is your goal relevant and necessary for your successful financial life? Is the gold worth it? Is this goal suitable for your short-term as well as a long-term vision of what you are trying to achieve?
  5. Time bound– what’s your time frame for reaching this goal? Can you put a time horizon, for each of your goals about when you would need the money for that particular purpose? Is there a clear end point of each goal which, you know, and you are aware whether it is achievable or not.
  6. Ecology: Your goal relates to the consequences of the actions that you would take. Hence, you have to analyze your goals to check if they are in sync with your environment. Check if they could harm anyone? Do your goals, create positive energy at the end and have a positive consequence for everyone around you? If not, you may feel negative vibrations leading to some resistance in your goal accomplishment.
  7. Resources: It refers to Money, or Time, or people, or your confidence, or your experience, or your determination, or your ability. Analyze them in the fulfillment of your goals.

So, create SMARTER GOALS, not just smart goals.

Redefine your goals. Reevaluate. Adjust the amounts.Re-align.

Also, a critical part of any goal setting is finding a valid metric. Here is the key metric that will help you achieve almost any goals. Moreover, that metric is simply TIME.

Here  are top three key metrics to help you monitor your goals precisely using “time” as a tool:

  1. Time is progressing: To accomplish any target, we need to take action. The action takes time. In most cases, the amount of time you spend on your goal has a direct impact on how much progress you make. So, in many ways, time equals progress.
  2. Time is mindfulness.Focusing on the time metric can bring our attention and motivation back to the process, not the result. We may not always know how close we are to the result, but we will always know how much time we are putting in.
  3. Time is all it takes: Tracking time is easy, but tracking progress sometimes can be hard. Instead of tracking your weight, you can track your exercise time. Instead of tracking how much money you make, you can track how much time you are productive. Instead of tracking how good you are with skill, track how much time you practice it.
    Live by design and on purpose.

The END Process:

  1. Now, think about the relevance and priority of each of your financial goals.
  2. If they are still important and critical to be pursued during this year, continue.
  3. Be clear in numbers about what amount that you wish to have as a goal in this year.
  4. There is a famous saying in the world of goal planning- how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This just proves the fact that each goal can be broken down into smaller bits- goals that are possible to achieve.
  5. Is there a link between motivation to achieve a goal and the measurement or the process of reaching the goal. What can impact our brain so that it prepared 10 to complete long-term goals?
  6. It is not just a plan that will help you to achieve your aim but should motivate you to continue to pursue that purpose and, meanwhile lets you enjoy that feeling of achievement too.
  7. There is a search to prove that the dopamine hormone in our brain can be responsible for the motivation required to achieve our goal? It has been found that this hormone helps us in forming a behaviour from a habit. For example, small wins can trigger the hormone to reprogram your brain to tell us to keep going on these healthy habits. For example, an app can help us to achieve walk schedule for today by helping you to count each step every day. So by walking, 2000 or 5000 or 10000 steps every day, the app helps you to achieve your goal 1 step at a time. Similarly, if you are trying to lose weight and have a target of 50 kgs in one year, wanted to be better to break it down into the realistic goal of 1 kg per week.For example, small wins can trigger the hormone to reprogram your brain to tell us to keep going on these healthy habits.
  8. The same applies to financial planning goals been broken up into smaller target bits. If you wish to have a target, of let’s say, of accumulating 1 crore rupees in 5 years. Then, as a financial planner, I would break it down into 50000 rupees per month. Use our ready-made easy to use SIP Calculator to do your easy calculations. This calculator will tell you how much you can accumulate if you start investing a fixed amount every month, for the next five years.
  9. Ultimately, the important factor for behaviour change is to break down a bigger goal into a smaller goal, thereby ensuring that the smaller goals are achievable by you. Achievable, at the level of spending and managing your household expenses leading to Little Savings and thus accumulation in the long run

What can be the action steps now for you to start your goal tracking systems and progress systems?

  1. It is not merely having the goal clearly defined.  But you must have broken down the goal into small size bits. Thus, there should be a mechanism to provide feedback, call it the progress tracking system– (Try our report: the-advantage-investments-tracking-report-for-2017). This will keep reminding you that you are on track to achieving that particular goal in the long run. Have goal tracking systems in place.
  2. Thus, you must have excellent tools provided by your financial planner which can track your progress for each of the goals. Ask your financial planner to give you tools to enable you to track your goals. Your financial planner can provide such tools to help you to measure and track such targets inside your financial plan. Note: We have been providing all our clients with a weekly tracking system (see sample) for all the investments in one report, which is analyzed and discussed in quarterly review meetings.
  3. Measure your Motivation levels and reward yourself: Here, lies the motivation and the inspiration for you to see and get motivated that your goal is being monitored by a professional and you can feel happy about it.
  4. Keep updating your systems to help you to get motivated.  Moreover, with every small goal achieved by you, (which is based on your actual investments), you get motivated to discuss your achievement on frequent intervals, like every quarter. For example, this method of a weekly statement (Sample report download  )to my clients has brought much confidence in our client’s mind and also helped them to feel motivated to increase their investments based on the little success achieved every month. This is an example of what we practice and what we believe!
  5. Believe, that your financial goals, resources, skills, beliefs, values determine how you align all these goals eventually into actions.
  6. Goals, which are personal, may also change over your lifetime. Keep resources and time to allow change. This could be in the form of an exigency fund too.
  7. Now, Goals can be plans in action. Keep progressing.
  8. From dreams to ideas to a wish list, you may have identified your priorities. Now decide the tradeoffs, which you are willing to give to achieve these top priority goals.
  9. Only you can determine these targets but, do not copy from what your friend may have as his goals. Moreover, you must choose your goals, based on your values and what values you stand for!
  10. Finally, these values can then be linked to your happiness. This will bring immense joy to you and your family also.
  11. Action Plan: We have made a special template for you! A Free Gift! Download this Excel template to write your own goals but with our help. This sheet gives you ideas on what can be your financial goals and how you can prioritize them also. Financial Goals Template is in excel and this Financial Goals Articulator Template is in PDF format.

Sources: Carl Richards images

Your financial goals, resources, skills, beliefs, values determine how you align all these goals eventually into actions.
So, keep planning your goals, on these powerful methods. Keep tracking these goals till all your goals are accomplished. Keep rewarding yourself on every goal completion. Be happy. May all the joys of goal accomplishment be with you.

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