What are your top three financial goals?
How do you think your goals could change after doing one simple exercise?
Any of us can answer that first question pretty easily. We can spit out a few generic goals off the top of our heads.
When we do, though, we’re probably cheating ourselves.1
That’s because setting goals off the top of our heads isn’t a really productive way to choose our investment strategies or make financials plans.1
And it’s certainly not the best way to prioritize our goals or keep them in focus.1
The truth is one very simple exercise can help us set better goals.1
With that, we’re far more likely to be successful in achieving them.2
What exercise can help us?
Simply by using a “master list.”1
Let’s find out how it all works, by looking at the captivating findings of a recent study and what it tells us about the benefits of using lists in financial goal setting.1
Then, we’ll see if your goals change for the better after you do the quick (~2-minute) master list exercise.
6 Unbelievable & REAL Payoffs of Using Lists to Set Your Big Financial Goals
1: Lists can change our top goals
What’s your number one financial goal right now?
Retiring or buying a house is most folks’ answer to that question.1
At least 1 in 4 changed one of their top goals, though, after they look at a master list.1
And nearly 3 in 4 changed one or more of their top three goals after seeing a master list.1
Benefit: Lists can help us see our main objectives and big-picture goals more clearly.1
2: Lists can refine our goals
How specific are your financial goals?
Many of us don’t set the most defined goals right out of the gate.1
And unspecific goals can sabotage our success.3 But after looking at a master list, more than 1 in 4 folks will end up clarifying their top goal, moving away from a generic goal, and setting a more specific one.1
Because a list can elaborate on generic goals and reveal more of the intent behind them.1
In fact, many folks who’ve said they want to “grow wealth” as their top financial goal will change that after looking at a list, picking a more specific goal showing WHY they wanted to grow their wealth.1
Benefit: Lists can bring specificity to our goals. That can keep us motivated and help us see better ways to achieve our objectives.1
3: Lists correct our misconceptions about our goals
How much does a limited understanding of finance factor into your financial goals?
Lists can help you answer that question and see what those misconceptions may be.1
That’s because any of us can be misled by common misunderstandings about money and finance.4
A clear example of that shows up in the area of paying down debt. More than 1 in 4 folks whose top goal is to pay down debt change that goal after seeing a master list.1
Because they realize that saving for retirement and paying down debt aren’t tradeoffs.1
Benefit: Lists can inform and educate us about our options. Lists can also set the record straight when our thinking or facts are off base.1
4: Lists can reveal the emotions behind the financial goals
How much do your emotions factor into your financial goals?
They could be a bigger factor than you realize, and that’s not a bad thing.
In fact, even though emotional decisions aren’t always the best in finance, they can help with goal setting.1
That’s because our emotions can get to the real purpose behind our goals, answering the “why” of it all.1
And that becomes really clear when we see how many folks end up changing their top goal after looking at a master list.1
At least half will revise their top goal to be an emotion-based goal, like “feeling more secure with finances” or “not feeling like I’m a financial burden to my family as I grow older.”1
Plus, the emotional rewards we get from achieving our goals can be just as valuable as any financial returns.1
Benefit: Lists can show us how emotionally rewarding our financial goals can be — and how it’s not just all about the numbers and bottom line.1
5: Lists can help us see our cognitive blind spots
What biases could be limiting your goals?
No matter how smart we are, we’re all working with limited knowledge.1
After all, no one knows everything.
On top of that, any one of us can be swayed by biases without even realizing it.1
That could mean something like the “present bias” gets in our way. If that happens, we could overvalue the short-term rewards over bigger, longer-term gains.1
That can all change just by looking at a master list of goals.1
Well, master lists can put things into perspective and open our eyes to things we’ve assumed or overlooked before.1
Benefit: Lists can help us recognize our biases and blind spots, giving us a better perspective on our goals.1
6: Lists can help us prioritize our goals
What do you really want out of your financial goals — and life? How will that make you happy?
Believe it or not, many of us don’t really know what we want.1
We don’t truly understand our preferences, and we may not even know what actually makes us happy.1
With that, it can be pretty challenging to prioritize our goals.1
Lists can turn that around, though.1
They can help us dial into what we actually want and better understand where our happiness lies.1
Think about this on a smaller scale, like when you’re going out to eat and you don’t know what to order. That “Aha!” moment when you see something that sounds great — and that you didn’t know you wanted — until that exact moment you saw it on the menu is a little moment of self-discovery.
And those discoveries can happen with lists in your financial life and goal setting too.1
Benefit: Lists help us learn more about ourselves, what we want, and what’s really going to make us happy. Lists can also help us sort out our priorities and set goals that are truly important to us.1
It’s time to see what a master list could do for you and your financial goals.
Many of us are strangers to ourselves and simple lists can help us figure out what’s really going on in our heads.
How to Start Improving Your Goals Now
It’s time to see what a master list could do for you and your financial goals.
Think about your top three financial goals again.
Better yet, write them down if you can.
Now, take a look at the master list of goals below1. Keep your goals in mind as you read through each option.
Master List of Investment Goals:
To be better off than my peers
To pay for personal self-improvement (e.g., go back to school, learn a skill)
To experience the excitement of investing
To start a new business
To buy a house
To help pay for my kids’ college education
To stop working and do something I love
To go on a dream vacation
To relocate in retirement
To care for my aging parents
To give to charity or other causes I care about
To feel secure about my finances in retirement
To feel secure about my finances now
To leave an inheritance to my loved ones
To retire early
To pay for future medical expenses
To not be a financial burden to my family as I grow older
How many of your goals changed after reading that list?
How did your goals change?
This exercise can be wonderfully eye-opening, whether or not any of your goals change after looking at a master list.
Why? Because many of us are strangers to ourselves and simple lists can help us figure out what’s really going on in our heads.1
In fact, lists can work better than open-ended questions and sophisticated techniques when we’re setting goals.
That’s because a simple list can open our eyes, helping us see the big picture and what we want from it.
Lists can also make our goal setting more effective, motivating us and keeping us on track as we work towards our goals.
So can the knowledgeable professionals we trust.
Risk Disclosure: Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability, or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only.
Securities and investment advisory services offered through Osaic Wealth, Inc.,member FINRA/SIPC. Additional advisory services offered through The AmeriFlex® Group. Osaic Wealth is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of Osaic Wealth. Insurance is offered through Scott A. Chelberg, CFP®