Goals are targets—something to aim for. They give life direction and a sense of purpose. In addition, a structured goal setting process provides a framework for anticipating, planning, and preparing for the future.
Despite these important benefits, many individuals are reluctant to set goals. Often this is because goal setting has been ineffective for them in the past. They miss their targets and then become disappointed and discouraged. For others, setting goals creates internal stress by mentally switching an idea or a dream from the “want to” category to the “have to” category. They then begin to feel pressure to perform and experience fear of failure.
Nonetheless, goal setting is an essential component of developing a successful financial plan. In your role as a trusted advisor, it is critically important that you help your clients to adopt a fresh perspective on goal setting by aligning their financial goals with their most cherished values and priorities.
Therefore, here are tips that you can share with your clients to help them to think about their goals in a new way, engage their hearts and minds in the financial planning process, and build enthusiasm for and commitment to the financial plan and advice you deliver:
- Your goals must be meaningful to YOU.
Goals will provide your clients little value unless they bring depth and meaning to their lives as they work to achieve them.
- Know what you want.
If your clients choose goals that others have told them they should accomplish, it is unlikely they will feel motivated and inspired to achieve them.
- Build an image of the end result.
Encourage your clients to visualize their goals. That is because they will naturally progress toward positive mental images.
- Ask yourself if you are ready for change.
Help your clients to think about what their lives will be like when they achieve their goals. Are they really ready to accept the end result? Often individuals fall short of achieving their goals because subconsciously they don’t want to deal with new circumstances or their self-image does not allow for the change.
- Is there a conflict?
Ask your clients to evaluate whether or not their goals conflict with each other or with the goals of someone important in their lives. This knowledge, even on a subconscious level, can prevent them from moving towards their goals. Once they acknowledge the conflict, they can look for ways to resolve it.
- Decide on a timeframe (maybe).
Some goals should not have a deadline because a time limit can cause stress and decrease the joy of the journey. For some types of goals, target dates and deadlines are appropriate and motivating. But, for other types of goals, deadlines can stifle creativity and possibility thinking.
- Make a wish.
Important and meaningful goals often begin as a “wish.” Help your clients to understand that this is their opportunity to dream BIG. Giving “permission” to voice their aspirations will open their awareness to resources, solutions, and opportunities they never thought possible.
Always remember that your goal setting process should provide your clients with an effective way to picture what they want their lives to be like—now and in the future. Then they will be able to move towards those images in an intentional way.
If you, as their trusted advisor, make the effort to facilitate a meaningful goal-setting process, your clients will be motivated to maintain a relationship with you and will remain committed to their personalized financial plan.
- Carol Anderson