The start of a new year always feels like a fresh beginning. We each get a new, clean slate to start off and look to the future. Whether last year was a boom or a bust, it doesn't matter because we get a do-over. With the beginning of every year, it's a great time to pause and make a list of what's important to you. With the speed that life moves, if you don't do this now, it'll easily be Valentine's Day and you'll wonder how you've already burned one-tenth of the year without having any clear direction.
As much as we like it or not, finances are a key component in reaching our hopes and dreams. This becomes much more complicated if you are drowning in medical school debt and still have to keep up with your basic day-to-day expenses.
The benefits of sitting down and writing down your goals are enormous, but here are five benefits of goal planning that you may not realize.
There are so many things calling for our attention these days, if you're not crystal clear on what's important and where you want to end up, it's far too easy to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Whether it's work options, volunteer opportunities, or family commitments, one of the greatest benefits you can give yourself and your family is learning to say no to things that detract from what's most important to you.
Because there are so many things calling for your attention and endless gadgets available through social media to purchase, it's difficult to determine and stay committed to using your money for the things that are most important to you. Being clear about your priorities (whether you want to travel, save for the future, or simply enjoy the present), allows you to make sure your money is going where you truly want to spend it.
Taking time to write out who is most important to you and how you want to be present in those relationships gives you clarity around who you want to spend time with most. Armed with this information, you will find it easier to say no to opportunities, engagements, dinners, and other commitments that will steal time from the relationships that are most important to you. Perhaps there is no more important reason to make a list of your goals than this one.
As you move through the year saying yes to the time, financial, and relational opportunities that move you toward your goal and no to the things that will distract from your goals, you will feel more confident. You'll know that you are on track with the things that you value and that your life isn't being watered down by things that are depriving you of what's most important.
Sometimes people object to writing down their goals or making a financial plan because they feel that it will restrict their spontaneity or ability to be impulsive. My experience has been almost the exact opposite. Being focused on committing your time, money, and relationships to the things that are most important to you can lead to a sense of freedom. You will know that whatever's left over can easily be given, donated, or used for other opportunities or purchases. For example, if you've committed to setting aside money for your savings, travel, and lifestyle expenses that are most important to you, then there is a sense of freedom knowing when you have money left over you can use it to go out to eat or for supporting a friend's missions trip.
So, set aside time now while the year is young and the opportunities abound. Make a list of the relationships that are most important to you, the things that you want to do, be, see, learn, and experience this year and make it your best one yet!
Every season of life brings a change in perspective and financial goals. Working with a financial advisor helps map out a practical path to reach your financial goals. The goals and ideas in your life map should be reviewed annually to make any necessary adjustments along the way. Life is unpredictable and a financial advisor can provide an objective second opinion to keep you from losing sight.
Shane Tenny is the managing partner of Spaugh Dameron Tenny. Along with hosting the Prosperous Doc® podcast, Shane has a true passion for behavioral finance, helping clients and audiences understand how to develop successful strategies based on their unique temperaments. An accomplished and highly engaging speaker, Shane is regularly interviewed for television and podcasts, is actively involved in the Financial Planning Association®, and contributes to industry advisory boards.
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