At AVID Planning, we recognize that accumulating money is not the ultimate goal but rather a tool to achieve your goals. Making financial decisions impacts more than your wallet or balance sheet.
We like to focus on the idea of creating a “Purpose-Driven Money System.”
This system asks, how can you make your money work for you?
We’ve come up with 4 simple steps to creating a better system for your finances. By focusing on the bigger picture, you can concentrate on reaching your financial goals and spend (both money and time) in areas that give your life meaning.
- Your money has a greater purpose behind it.
- Your values are the driver of both your personal and financial decisions.
- Defining your “10” will provide clarity for creating meaningful goals.
- Your values and goals will likely change over time, and that’s okay!
- Your ideal lifestyle is completely within your reach.
1. Start With Your Values
Whether we’re aware of them or not, we all have core values that drive how we live our lives.
Similar to a corporate entity’s “mission,” your values hover in the background, driving what you do and the decisions you make. These “themes of life” come from many different areas, like people you admire, shaping experiences, or dream-worthy aspirations. Living within those values or missions makes you feel more fulfilled.
If you aren’t sure what your values are, you aren’t alone! Finding a single word to define what you’re passionate about can be tough. Consider using this tool to help give you some inspiration, and ask yourself,
- What’s most important to you?
- Is there something in life you can’t live without?
- Who do you most admire, and which of their qualities stand out to you?
- What shaping experiences taught you the most important life lessons?
These questions are just a springboard to get you thinking about what’s most important to you. When you know the answer, you can better align your money with your values and derive more purpose and fulfillment from it.
When you work with AVID Planning, we help you keep your values at the forefront of your financial decisions. For example, you may value the following:
Now, think of your values in terms of your financial journey. By keeping your values at the front and center, you could come to the following finance-related decisions:
- I want to be able to save enough money to make a monetary donation to my local food bank monthly. (Community)
- During retirement, I will commit to participating in a cycling class twice a week. (Health)
- Throughout my adult life, I will contribute to a college savings fund for my grandchildren. (Family)
Your life is a purposeful and deliberate journey. And your finances are the tool to help you achieve your goals. Without setting expectations, goals, etc., that align with your values, you won’t know which direction to go.
Let your values be your roadmap.
2. Define Your “10.”
What comes to mind when you think of the “perfect” day? Is it a sunny morning walk around your local park? Spending an evening cooking a new style of cuisine? Time in your favorite comfortable lounge chair reading a novel? Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
The next step in our process is what we call defining your “10,” aka, creating a Vision of Your Ideal Life (a specific exercise we use with clients)! Of course, this looks different for everyone. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What does “10” mean for you personally, professionally, etc.?
- How will you feel when you reach “10”?
- What lifestyle or mindset changes do you need to make to get to your “10”?
- How is your “10” aligned with your values?
Your answers will further help you establish your goals. You might be thinking, “these goals are wonderful, but how can I actually achieve them?”
This is where the acronym SMART comes in.
3. Take “SMART” Focused Steps to Get There
Most people in the business sector have likely heard the term SMART. In case you need a refresher, or for those who don’t know, SMART is a comprehensive checklist for making goals. It asks you to consider your goals more deeply and actually create a plan to bring them to life.
By having SMART goals, you set yourself up to achieve them. While you may have seen this acronym before, we gave it a little AVID twist to make it even more applicable to your financial journey.
- S - Significant
- M - Meaningful
- A - Attractive
- R - Rewarding
- T - Timely
Looks different, huh?
It’s certainly not how you’ve read it in business blogs or career classes. This new version of SMART goals forces you to think about your goals from a more personal and emotional place. Let’s take a closer look at how to apply these ideas.
First, it’s important to point out that the word “significant” is a relative term. What’s significant to you may not be significant to someone else—and that’s the point! You want to set goals that resonate with what’s most important to you.
By keeping that significance at the forefront of your process, you’ll remain motivated and more joyful as you reach certain milestones.
With so much “free” advice out there, it’s really easy to get stuck in a “should” mentality. For example, I should save more for retirement. Or I should put more money toward debt repayment.
All of the “should’s” you tell yourself don’t necessarily translate nicely into your daily life. So instead of setting goals based on what others view as important, connect your goals with your values and priorities. When you align your goals with your values, they will be full of meaning.
When you create goals that are significant and meaningful, you’re more drawn toward the habits and behaviors that help you experience and achieve them. It helps you think about your goals like positive images you want to work for, not something where pure grit and determination need to take over. This clear vision of what you want in your life will focus your intention and guide your daily decisions.
Like any decision, your goals come with specific tradeoffs. Sometimes it’s challenging to make progress toward goals because we’re weighing the costs and benefits that come along with the commitment.
For example, suppose your goal is to make work optional. In that case, you may need to focus on building up your emergency savings or doubling down on your investments before pulling back to properly support your lifestyle.
Keep in mind that it’s far more advantageous to work toward goals that bring a clear sense of reward both throughout the journey and once you reach the destination.
Timing is a significant factor when setting meaningful goals. As you consider your objectives, ask yourself,
- Does this goal have a specific time commitment?
- What are your expectations for the time commitment to reach the goal?
- Is this the right time in your life to embark on this journey?
Remember, some goals should have specific target dates, and others might not.
4. Consistency is Key, but Adapt When Needed
Goal setting that aligns with your personal values isn’t a one-and-done, set-it-and-forget style project. It’s an ever-evolving process that can change depending on where you’re at in your life.
While your core values, like community or family, may stay the same, applying them in your life will be different. You might not live in the same community forever, so you’ll have to find new ways to be a present force wherever you live. Your financial (and personal) role in your children’s lives won’t stand still—yes, there’s an end in sight for college saving!
Knowing that your goals and priorities may shift is an important part of the process. But as long as your values are your anchor, you’ll always have the tools to make the most intentional and meaningful decisions.
So don’t be afraid to adapt!
We look forward to the opportunity to define what a “Purpose-Driven Money System” means to you and how we can help you get there. Please set up a meeting with us today to get started.