Is It Time To Set That Goal?
Have you been to the gym in January? It's always packed. But, if you give it a few weeks, the gym is generally just as empty as it was in December. Why is that? In our society, goals, accomplishments, and success are glorified. Is that a bad thing? No. But, sometimes, we idolize the wrong things when it comes to goals.
I am a proponent of achieving goals and always have been. They are essential for an individual's progress as well as the progress of organizations and society. The problem isn't with setting them; the problem is that people often don't understand what they are. I would argue that they often confuse them with dreams and sometimes simply the desire to follow social norms.
Is It a Goal or Your Goal?
Let's keep on going with this gym membership example. Before the rush to the gym in January, something else happens. Countless people feel like they need to lose weight, have a better and healthier lifestyle, or follow the crowd in their ambitions. There is nothing magical about January 1st. At any given second, the earth has just completed a full rotation around the sun one year ago from that moment.
A similar example to the gym is when we talked to people about retirement planning. The question comes up, "what would you like to do during retirement?" Just like the predictability of gym-goers and the increase in January gym attendance, one of the most common answers to this question is, "I'd like to travel." Is it wrong for people to want to lose weight or travel? No. But we're getting closer to the point I'm trying to make.
What Do You Want?
Striving to accomplish goals is a very noteworthy endeavor. My belief in setting and achieving goals is what lead me into this profession in the first place. The problem is many people skip a step. Many people look at society and feel like there are expectations as to what they should want. When this happens, people overlook the first step to setting a goal, having an actual desire to do something. You don't have to feel like you need to hold hands with your significant other at the beach, looking across the horizon to have a successful retirement. You don't have to set a goal to lose weight just because the first day of the new year is a day away.
There's something that rings true with everything you consciously do in life. You decided you wanted to do it more than you didn't want to do it, based on your knowledge of the two alternatives. Eating a donut instead of eating a salad doesn't mean you don't want to lose weight. You craved the donut more than the alternative.
What Does This Have To Do With Financial Planning?
If you decide to retire, you will wake up the day of your retirement, and the sun will come up just as it did the day before. You will be the same person you were the night before. No retirement fairy changes your life overnight. You will be living a continuation of the life you lived before retirement. Retirement is generally a phase of life rather than the end goal.
Life changes, priorities change, and goals change too. It's essential to pay attention to what you value, what is important to you, and what you want out of life. Financial planning can help you fund your goals and plan to fulfill your unique desires in life. You should plan your life, set your goals based on your desires, and save the needed capital to fund the life you want. And, if you desire to hold hands with your significant other and look into the distance on a beach for retirement, I won't judge.