Shane Tenny, CFP® & Managing Partner of Spaugh Dameron Tenny, shares 5 benefits of sitting down and writing down your goals that can make an enormous difference in your life.
SHANE TENNY: All right. Well, the new year is always the beginning of new things and a fresh beginning. And we each get a new clean slate to start off and look to the future. And so whether last year was a boom or a bust for you, it doesn't matter because we all get a do-over now at the beginning of each year.
It's a great time to pause and make a list of what's important to you with the speed at which life moves. If you don't do this now. It'll be Valentine's Day. And you're going to wonder how you already burned up a 10th of the year without even having a really clear idea of where you're headed. And so the benefits of sitting down and writing down your goals and priorities are pretty enormous.
But there are five reasons that I think it's great to do that now. The first is just priority. Making a list of your goals gives you clarity about how to prioritize your time and your money. There are so many things calling for our attention these days. If you're not crystal clear on what's important to you and where you want to end up, then it's really easy to get caught up in saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way, whether it's work or volunteering, or family commitments. And one of the greatest benefits you can give yourself and your family is learning how to say no to things that distract from your real priorities.
The second reason or benefit that I think you can get out of making a list of your goals. And what's important is the clarity that you get. Being clear about your goals helps you be clear about where to spend your time and your money. Again, there are so many things calling for our attention and endless opportunities to spend money on social media or buy new gadgets or new technology.
It's difficult to know and stay committed to using your money for the things that are most important to you. If you don't have a list of what that is, when you lay out your priorities, though, whether it's travel or saving for the future, or even enjoying the present, being clear about those things helps you make sure that your money and your time are going where your priorities are.
The third reason to make a list of your priorities is it not only gives you clarity around your time and your money but clarity around your relationships. When you have a good idea of what's important to you and how you want to be present in those relationships, again, you're better enabled to say no to opportunities, engagements, dinners, and other commitments that are going to steal from the relationships that are most important to you. And honestly, maybe there is no more important reason to list your goals than this one.
The fourth thing that I see, though, is friends and clients who make a list of their priorities have greater confidence as they move through the year, saying yes to the time and the financial and the relational opportunities that move them toward their goals and no to the things that will distract from your goals. You feel more confident. You'll know you're on track for the things you value and your life isn't being watered down by the opportunities that are just depriving you of what's most important to you.
And then the fifth thing is an increased sense of freedom. Sometimes people object to writing down goals or resolutions or priorities and making a plan because they feel like it's going to constrict their spontaneity or their impulsiveness. And my experience is almost the exact opposite as you become clear about what's important to you and how to spend your time and your money and your relationships.
It can lead to a sense of freedom because then whatever's left over can be given or donated or used, however, it needs to be. For example, if you've made the decision to commit money this year to savings and travel and lifestyle expenses that are important to you. Once you've done those things, then you can feel a sense of freedom that what's left over can be used for going out to eat or clothes or supporting your friend's mission through.
The key here is to just try to be intentional. I definitely think it will give you a greater sense of freedom, confidence, and priority around your relationships, your timing, and your money. And by the way, might I say if one of your goals this year is to develop a financial plan, consider hiring a professional. They just might have the time, expertise, and experience to help you make this one of your best years yet.
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.