Just about everyone who doles out financial advice — myself included — encourages you to start by setting some goals. After all, how can you make good decisions if you don’t first know where you want to go?
The truth is that your goals are incredibly important. They shape your decisions. They drive your behavior. They define how you view success and failure. And over time they end up determining the kind of life you build for yourself and your family.
That’s some pretty heavy stuff.
So how do you know whether you’re setting the right goals? Goals that you’ll follow through on. Goals that, once achieved, will actually make you feel happy. Or secure. Or fulfilled.
There’s one good way to find out. All you have to do is ask “Why?”.
Why do we fail at our goals?
It’s easy to set a goal and never follow through on it.
I do it. You do it. We all do it all the time.
Why does it happen?
More often than not, it’s because we don’t really know the “Why” behind the goal. We don’t know why it’s important to us or why it will bring us closer to the life we want.
And without that “Why”, we don’t have a compelling reason to do the hard work necessary to follow through.
It may very well be that the goal actually isn’t all that important to us. We set it mostly because we felt like we were “supposed to”, not because it truly mattered to us.
But in a lot of cases, that goal is important to us and it will improve our life in a meaningful way. We just haven’t made the effort to connect those dots so we can truly understand why that’s true.
Either way, the goal ends up just sitting there, gathering dust and eventually floating away as we go about our life just as it was before.
Understanding the “Why” behind each goal you set is the difference between setting goals that matter and setting goals that don’t.
It’s the difference between a goal you follow-through on and one you don’t.
It’s the difference between a goal that makes your life happier, and one that doesn’t.
It’s the difference between a goal you pursue unfailingly because it’s a part of your life’s mission, and one that feels like just another item on your to-do list.
It’s the difference between a goal you actually care about, and one that’s just kind of there because it’s “supposed to be”.
And in the end, it’s the difference between achieving real financial security and real financial freedom, or simply creating a mirage of each.
What’s your “Why”?
If you want to set meaningful financial goals, I would encourage you to look at each one and ask yourself “Why?”:
- Why are you setting this goal?
- Why is it important to you?
- Why will it help you create the life you want for yourself and your family?
Keep asking why and eventually you’ll get to one of two places with each goal you’ve set.
Either you’ll run out of answers, which is probably a good sign that it’s not an important goal. Time to move on to the next one.
Or you’ll get to an answer that resonates deeply with your personal values. You’ll see that this goal is the difference between building the life you want to live, or not. Simple as that.
If you can set goals that have that burning “Why” behind them, and avoid the ones that don’t, not only will you accomplish a lot more, but those accomplishments actually make you feel happier, more fulfilled, and more secure.
Give your money a purpose
Personal finance isn’t really about money. It isn’t a checklist of to-dos where you can cross everything off and proclaim yourself “successful”.
It doesn’t work like that.
Personal finance is really about the life you want for yourself and your family. It’s about what makes you happy, what you value, and what you enjoy.
Money is just a tool that, when used well, can make those things possible.
Asking “Why?” for every financial goal you set will help you keep your money aligned with your real priorities. It will help ensure that your financial decisions are actually leading to a happier life, rather than simply checking off boxes or fulfilling someone else’s dream.
And that’s what it’s really all about.
So, what’s your “Why”? Leave a comment down below to let me know!