Goals are set to further an objective or reach a specific outcome or achievement. They are often structured and outcome-oriented. However, when set with clarity and intention, goals become supportive and effective guides that keep us in alignment as we craft our most desired lives.
As 2021 comes to a close, it can be deeply valuable to spend time reflecting on this past year and considering where you would like to focus your energy around goals for the year ahead. You may find it helpful to set personal, family, career, spiritual, health and wellness, and of course, money goals.
The ultimate desire behind setting financial goals is abundance, a feeling I describe as overflowing fullness. The most sustainable way to welcome greater abundance into your life is learning how to set supportive money goals.
I’m here to share my best practices. Let’s dive in!
Before you sit down to begin creating your money goals, plan a day and time to do so. Put it in your calendar or planner – whatever works for you! This helps for several reasons including, accountability, follow-through, and showing up to the exercise in the right headspace.
I also encourage you to create a grounding environment for your exploration. When I prepare for my scheduled money check-ins, I like to have a warm beverage, usually tea or lime water, with me. I find it supportive to light a candle, burn incense or turn on my diffuser because aromatherapy anchors me in my body, and being in my body is when I feel the most secure.
Once you’ve set aside time and created a supportive environment, it’s time to gain compassionate clarity around where you currently are and where you wish to be. The key here is compassion. Take time to recognize all that you accomplished this past year and the challenges you overcame. Leave judgment at the door of whatever room you’re sitting in. I invite you to think about or journal around the following questions:
- Where do I already feel abundant in my life (relationships, career, mentors, wealth, creativity, health, spirituality, etc.)?
- Where do I desire greater abundance (relationships, career, mentors, wealth, creativity, health, spirituality, etc.) in my life?
- In the areas of my life where I desire greater abundance, what does that look like, tangibly? Jot down a few bullets for each area identified.
Feel it out
Now that you’ve identified the areas of life where you desire greater abundance and have visualized what it looks like tangibly, it’s time to explore what it will feel like. Often, our minds trick us into thinking we want certain things, and once we have *insert something, course, trip, etc.*, we don’t feel any different. It didn’t add value to our lives.
To set money goals that will leave us feeling fulfilled, it’s essential to explore the desired abundance in greater depth. I invite you to sit with your eyes closed or with a soft gaze on the surface in front of you. Visualize accomplishing every one of the bullet points you jotted down in the previous exercise. As you imagine each, consider:
- How does it make you feel?
- What space does it create in your life?
- What does it allow you to do more of? What does it let you to do less of?
- How does it feel in your body? Does excitement creep into your stomach? Are you flooded with a sense of warmth? Or perhaps you feel constriction- a telling sign that this may not be in alignment with your true desires.
I encourage you to spend time here in this exercise. Our bodies hold innate wisdom that we often don’t take advantage of because we tend to live largely in our minds.
The importance of timing
Now that you’ve gained mental, emotional, physical, and possibly even spiritual clarity around your most aligned desires, you can begin creating and prioritizing your money goals based on timing. If you’ve ever worked with a financial planner or wish to in the future, you’ll learn that a driving factor behind their financial advice is timing.
I want you to compile the list of bullets you made for each area of your life into one list. These are now the subjects of your money goals. Next to each bullet, identify when you’d ideally like to reach the goal: within one year, 2-5 years, beyond five years.
For example, if you drive a 2007 Subaru Forester that costs you $500 in repairs each time you go in for an oil change (*raising hand*), you may choose to set a financial goal around saving for a down payment for a car. Identifying whether you desire or need the new car within the coming year or two years from now will significantly impact how much money you’ll contribute towards this goal each month.
Set those money goals!
Join me in taking a deep breath. You’ve made it to goal-setting!
In this step of the journey, you’ll understand how much money you’re comfortable putting towards each money goal and whether the desired timing is supportive and realistic. At this time, you’ll need to have an accurate sense of your monthly disposable income or after-tax income less your fixed expenses (rent/mortgage, car payments, utilities, groceries, insurance premiums, property taxes…).
If you don’t already know this number, reference your pay stubs or bookkeeping records, if self-employed, to determine your income and then reference your credit card statements, online accounts, etc., to identify fixed expenses. The amount of money left is disposable income, which you choose to put towards financial goals or day-to-day living expenses.
Begin to assign your disposable income to the goals you wish to accomplish within the year first, then 2-5 years, then beyond five years. I invite you to play around with this part of the exercise! Keep in mind that for the first few months after setting money goals, allow yourself to update them where it feels necessary.
These are not meant to be etched in stone, and your expectations and desired timing are allowed to change if you feel that the goals you set are too aggressive and have caused your daily life to feel restrictive. Or perhaps you weren’t ambitious enough, and after the first month, you realize you could put more towards your short-term money goals.
The journey doesn’t end here!
During the first week of every month, set aside time to check in with money. Nurture the relationship, check in with your goals, acknowledge your progress, and identify areas of improvement.
Setting supportive financial goals that welcome greater abundance into your life is a practice and a journey. As with anything new, you may not get it right instantly. Compassion, grace, and celebration go a long way. You got this!