Today the unlearn lesson I want to explore is focus. Or rather, clarity about your future and your goals. While it may seem odd that the abilities to create wealth and to focus are strongly related, it’s actually not too big a stretch to say, as if you don’t have a goal, you won’t hit it.

Today, the unlearn lesson I want to explore is focus. Or rather, clarity about your future and your goals. While it may seem odd that the abilities to create wealth and to focus are strongly related, it’s actually not too big a stretch to say, as if you don’t have a goal, you won’t hit it.

I have found over my life, my goals have changed. In my 20’s, I wanted to start a business, and travel to Europe. In my 30s, it was about having kids and figuring out how life works when you have little people.
I’m now in my 40’s and life is different again, but it is still driven by bigger goals, and a defined end game.

I have always believed that to really achieve what you want, you have to imagine it, think about it, almost to the point of obsession, and with a certainty based on the knowledge that one day you will get there.

This makes the setbacks, and tough times in your life a little easier to bear – because you know you are on track to getting what you want.

So many times in life, we have vague ideas about things we would like, or dreams we have, but they remain just that. Our tendency to ‘deal with things later’ means we don’t actually get what we want. This leads to a lifetime of ‘settling’ rather than using what years we have been given to the best of our advantage. In order to get what we want, we need to unlearn this lack of focus, and create some real, tangible goals.

Often times, the world of financial planning is simplified to just time horizons to retirement. I have found however, there is a new movement in the industry, where advisers and professional investors are now talking about goals. This means there’s a need to designing an investment strategy that matches the goals a person has in life.

Everybody is different, and what works for one, would not for another. So designing a financial strategy based on individual goals makes sense right? The industry is starting to see the light.

But in order for that process to be successful, you actually have to have clearly defined goals, and be able to articulate, and stick to them.

Loose goals, like travel, just won’t get you there. There is an easy process I can share with you to start defining your goals – which you can then action with a good financial strategy.

  1. Imagine your life in five years, 10 years and 20 years. What do you see yourself doing at each of these stages? What is your family like? What experiences do you want to have achieved in each of these periods? Take one page for each of those time periods and write a list. Put in as much detail as you can. Describe the experiences, and holidays in enough detail, that they start to feel real. You won’t believe the power of actually putting on paper the dreams you have for your life and your families.
  2. On another page, write down all the areas where you spend in your life. Not the boring details, but the general overviews – mortgage, school fees, medical expenses, kids. Then start to look at these expenses against your time periods. In 10 years will your kids have left home? Will the school fees be over? Start to get an understanding of how your major expenses could shift over time. This will help you to focus on the bigger plan –and the fact that you can in fact build a financial plan that shifts as your life does.
  3. Talk to your family, friends and colleagues about your goals. This helps to make them real to holds us accountable by saying them out loud. It also puts meat on the bones for you around how amazing it could actually be and how important it is to get there. By finding inspiring people at any stage of their life that you can point to and say, ‘I would like to be like that’, helps make it real. I met a lady in her 70s last week who was on the board of our children’s school. She spoke so passionately about her work on the board and how much she enjoyed it, that it inspired me to think that I would like to be doing that in my 70s. Bang. Another goal to add to my rather large list. Brilliant.

Once you have your goals, and they are real in your mind (and that of your family and friends), it’s time to put them into action. This will be explored in my fifth pillar of unlearning, suitably described as action. Some of you may well be able to create your own financial plans around your goals. I have never been that disciplined, or, to be honest, had that sort of skill set. This is why I have a financial adviser.

I can say without reservation, that a great adviser can be a brilliant asset to your life. I have no vested interest or financial gain in recommending this – I just know it’s has been the transforming piece of the puzzle for me. My husband and I now know what kind of life we want to lead – right into retirement; how much we want to spend along the way; and what we will end up with to leave to our kids when the party is done – all because we went through the process of advice.

To get you started thinking about your goals here’s a few snippets of inspiration. They have certainly helped me more clearly define what really matters to me.

[Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech: “How to live before you die”] – this is such a great reminder that we have limited time, so use it exactly as you wish.

[Patti Dobrowolski’s TED Talk: “Draw your future, take control of your life”] – this was voted one of the best TED Talks2015 – and for a good reason! It’s a great talk on why visualising and writing down goals really works.

[Goal Setting Workshop with Tony Robbins] – this is an audio feed, but it gives a good explanation of the power of setting tangible goals

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