Financial Planning

Six Guides to Financial Freedom

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” --- Johann von Goethe

We all make choices daily that directly and indirectly affect our goals and dreams.  Sometimes it is minor, like whether to spend $5 on a latte or save it for that vacation we have been meaning to take with our spouse.  Other times our decisions have greater consequences.  Most of us can identify at least one choice over the past year that has contributed to keeping us from advancing towards our goals.  The National Endowment for Financial Education® has hosted a think tank to find out what drives Americans to put their long term financial stability at risk so often through negative and even irresponsible financial behavior.

Regardless of the reasons for destructive financial decisions, we have developed six guides to help curb negative behavior and help you achieve your dreams.  We all know that it is much easier to break bad habits when you have good ones to replace them with.

  1. Develop Your Dream – Know what your financial and personal goals are and be able to articulate your dream for your life to others.  Develop a clear picture of what your life would look like once you have achieved your goals. 
  2. Measure Your Determination – It is much easier to advance towards your goals if you have identified their importance to you.  Some goals may be more pressing for you than others.  Sometimes we have a dream of what we would like our lives to become but we simply cannot, or are not ready to, commit to some of our goals because others are higher up the priority list.  Determine how committed you are to reaching your dream.  Then set priorities and timelines for each of your goals that reflect your determination and commitment to each of them. 
  3. Describe Your Motivation – Be able to explain why your dream is important and what is motivating you to achieve your goals.  How will striving to meet your dream positively or negatively affect you?  Consider whether your motivation is strong enough to help you overcome obstacles you may face along the way.
  4. Respect Your Decision – Once you have determined what you want to do, try not to second-guess yourself.  When making decisions, remember your dream and then think about how the choice you are getting ready to make might help or hinder you in reaching your goal.  Once you have made a decision, in consideration of these issues, be able to appreciate yourself and the decision you made without remorse or regret.  When we do not take the time to consider these issues, we find ourselves making choices that may negatively impact our dreams.  If you are taking that extra step in your decision-making process, you will most likely find that you make consistently better choices.
  5. Be Responsible – Your behavior is ultimately your responsibility.  You are the one who makes the sacrifices to meet your life goals.  It is much easier to do something when you have someone else holding you accountable.  Find a friend, colleague, spouse, mentor, or advisor that can help hold you accountable to achieving your dream. 
  6. Reward Yourself – When you make forward progress, reward your efforts.  Set up a series of rewards for yourself that will keep you excited and motivated to keep moving towards achieving your goals.  Be careful not to reward yourself in ways that negatively impact your progress.  For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, don’t lose 10 pounds and then reward yourself with an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner.  Instead, pick rewards that will support your efforts.  Maybe after losing 10 pounds, you take a day off of work and enjoy a healthy lunch, a movie, and an afternoon walk with a friend.  Be creative!

These six guides can help you in many areas of your life.  Knowing what you want and determining how to get it is not enough.  You must be willing to take the steps necessary to achieve your goals.  However, the hard work pays off when you are rewarded by achieving your goals and realizing your dreams!


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