We control the future by anticipating it and by creating steps that help us reach our goals. There are four options:
Thoughtful wishing is what financial and life planning is about. The other three are for children or possibly governments.
Pick your wish thoughtfully because by choosing one you automatically deny other possibilities. Recall the fundamental ideas that you can only use a given dollar once and you can only use a given hour once. It is not possible to have your cake and eat it too. For everything you want in the future, there is a give-up in the present. For each commitment, like a loan, that you made in the past, there is a give up today. Is the joy of purchasing with borrowed money a burden now. If it is, you might want to consider new borrowing more carefully. Tomorrow will come.
When deciding on what you want and when you want it and what you have to get it with, it is smart to also decide what you are choosing to not have by making your choice. Like, I will save for my child’s education and take a cheaper vacation. By knowing both what you consciously chose and did not choose, you will validate the goal and will minimize second guessing by a little.
It is also a smart idea to have goals that have a “today” component. What must I do today to move toward my chosen objective? Exercise, eat better, be grateful. Some things, like saving, are not every day but certainly every month.
If goals do not have any immediate element they become wishes. Wishes are seldom fulfilled.
Goals as opposed to wishes have two additional features.
Outcomes are generally the result of inputs. The world is mostly fair. You can control the future to your own satisfaction by putting in place processes that tend to reach out to the goals you have decided upon.
But you do have to implement and review.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.
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