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Refresh your financial goals

Refresh your financial goals

A financial plan should never be a ‘set and forget’ exercise, but rather a dynamic and flexible tool that adapts to your changing circumstances and goals. The start of a new year is a great opportunity to refresh your goals, so here are some tips to get you inspired.

Revisit your bucket list

Start by re-examining what it is that motivates you and what dreams and wishes you have for the future? This could include travel goals, leisure pursuits, family activities, lifestyle assets or retirement income. These things are what drives your financial plan, so it is important to re-appraise them regularly.

Make each goal concrete

The next step is to make sure you are clear on the dollar amounts, timeframes and priority of each objective. Setting these parameters ensures that the things you desire are tangible goals and not just idle wishes.

Your adviser can really add value to this process, so it may help to get them involved to help you articulate each goal and offer objective counsel on structuring the financial aspects to reach them.

Reviewing the context of your plan

It is important that the financial context of your plan is also reviewed to make sure you are maximising opportunities and taking into account external issues. This could include factors such as:

  • how you are managing debts;
  • your monthly budgeting;
  • how well you are savings;
  • maximising tax saving opportunities, such as salary sacrificing;
  • legislative changes; and
  • reviewing your insurance risk exposure.

Meshing the plan together

Your financial plan is unique to you, so you want to ensure it grows and develops along with your evolving perspectives and aspirations and remains a true reflection of your personality.

Your financial planner is ready to work alongside you in this process. Think of them as a financial coach that helps you ‘read the game’, point out opportunities and ensure that you play to your strengths.

Their experience and know-how can make a critical difference to the effectiveness of your plan and that can translate into a major difference in final outcomes.


Why is goal setting so important?

Why is goal setting so important?

Goal setting helps motivate us to make decisions and take action to achieve the things we want out of life, including financial independence.

Watch Troy explain why goal setting is so important.


6 steps for setting and achieving goals

6 steps for setting and achieving goals

Goal setting is a really important part of achieving the things in life you want to achieve.

It may seem like a simple thing to do, and there are many different techniques out there.

Today, I thought I’d share my method. It’s simple, fast and helps me focus on the things that are most important.

1. Clear my mind

I start by clearing my mind of all the other things that might be going on at the moment.

You could do that by exercising, going for a walk, meditating, or simply just closing the door and committing to focus on the task at hand.

2. Brainstorm

I then get all those things I want to achieve out of my head and on to paper. I write like a mad man and don’t do much filtering at this point.

I challenge myself to get to 100 goals, to help me think big and broad.

3. Categorise

For each of the goals, I then put a letter next to each to help me categorise them:

  • [P] for personal
  • [L] for lifestyle
  • [F] for financial
  • [B] for business (you might use [C] for “career”)
  • [T] for toys

4. Decide the top three

Then, from each of the categories, I decide my top three. That means choosing my top three personal goals, my top three lifestyle goals, my top three financial goals, and so on.

5. Get specific

For each goal, I then start to flesh out all the details:

  • Get super specific e.g. Rather than “renovate house”, I will break it down into something like, “upgrade outdoor entertaining area with new timber furniture”
  • Put a timeframe around each goal e.g. by 1 September 2015
  • Decide on a dollar value for each goal (if applicable) e.g. $3,000
  • Get clear about why the goal is important e.g. so we can enjoy long lunches with our family and friends, outdoors over summer

6. Work out the “how”

This is where I start delving into exactly how I’m going to achieve each goal.

I often find I need to work backwards a little.

For example, say you have a goal to renovate your kitchen, and you’ll need $20,000 to do that. You could reduce your spending, increase your savings or increase your income (or all three).

You might decide that to achieve that savings amount, as well as other career goals, doing some additional study might be a way to secure a higher paying role e.g. increase your salary from $60,000 to $80,000. And that extra study and increased income, will ultimately help get that new kitchen.

I also have a one year planner, that breaks down the action steps for each of my top three goals for the next three months, each week and each day.

Taking action and making progress every day is pretty powerful. But it can be both motivating and sometimes pretty frustrating. Let’s face it; it’s pretty hard to achieve everything you want, all of the time.

However those daily and weekly actions do have an impact. And you will find that hitting those medium term goals, is likely to happen if you’re consistent with your regular actions. Sometimes things may take a bit longer than you planned, but you’ll get there in the end.

Have you downloaded your free goal setting worksheet?

Take the first step towards achieving your dreams and get your free Goals Journal.

6 ways to help achieve your goals

6 ways to help achieve your goals

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, it’s not just a matter of dreaming big, writing it down and taking the right actions. You also need to know whether what you’re doing every day, is getting you closer to or further from the end game.

Here are six ways that will help give you a better chance of getting there.

1. Remind yourself every day

Each day, take the time to look at your goals. (You have written them down, haven’t you?) It will help remind you of what you are trying to achieve, and get your sub-conscious working for you.

It doesn’t need to take much time. It may just be a few minutes reading through them, or a quick glance at your dream chart.

2. Take a deeper look every week or month

Depending on your goals and how high a priority they are, you’ll need to take a closer look at them each week or month.

Maybe every Sunday you check how well you did with your exercise goal for the week. Or if you’re focused on a savings goal, you might check your savings account balance once a month.

3. Set benchmarks (and monitor them)

When you take a deeper look at your progress, you’ll need to track how you’re going against something. It’s hard to know if you’re progressing otherwise.

So decide upon a benchmark you can measure and monitor.

Say you decide you need to save $100,000 for a 20% home deposit, and you want to achieve that in 4 years. You’ll need to figure out how much you need to save each week or month so you can action and monitor it.

At $25,000 / year, that’s about $2,000 / month or $500 / week. Split that between you and your partner and you know $250 needs to go into your savings account every single week. Make it easy to track and measure your progress.

4. Plan your day to help you get there

It might seem obvious, but if you don’t set up systems and habits to help you achieve your goals, you probably won’t achieve them.

Know where you need to focus on a day to day basis.
– Troy Collins

One of my goals is to get a podium finish in a cycling race in April. Not only have I set my training goals, but I have made sure there is scheduled time in my day (early mornings) to go for training rides, improve my race fitness and make sure I eat the kind of food my body needs.

Don’t assume things will just happen. Plan for them and make them happen.

5. Keep on learning

Making sure you stay inspired and up to date on the latest information can also help you reach your goals…and in some cases, faster.

I read cycling magazines and blogs to make sure I know the latest training techniques. And last year I had a cycling coach who helped with that knowledge and those skills too.

Just remember not to use your time spent learning as a way to procrastinate on taking action.

6. Don’t do it alone

Having the support of others can be a great motivator to help keep you on track. If you find people that you respect, to share your goals and progress with, you might find it makes a whole lot of difference.

I share my goals with my wife, Marilo and the kids. We sit down every Sunday and make sure we all know what everyone else is focused on for the week to come, and plan around those goals.

It might be a particularly heavy week for study or exams. And sometimes there’s a competition coming up that requires a few more hours in the saddle or time spent on the tennis court.

As a family we come together and support each other achieving what’s important to each of us.


What strategies do you use to help reach your goals? 


Small changes can make a big difference

Small changes can make a big difference

I recently heard a story about a man who had a piano that he hadn’t used in a long time.

He sat down to play a song, and after hitting a few keys found it was completely out of tune.

So he called on a piano tuner, who came by his house. The piano tuner made some adjustments here and there, and the piano started to sound like it could once again play a beautiful tune.

When he’d finished, the piano tuner told the gentleman that he would need to come back two or three more times, before it was just right.

“The strings will stretch with use. And as they stretch, the sound will change. They’ll need some readjusting until we get it just right.”

It made me think how similar that is to how we live our lives and how we strive to achieve our goals. We have to continually adjust what we do as the bad habits creep in; to ensure we get closer to our own version of perfect…our goals.

It’s the same for me too. As a business owner, I sometimes fall into bad habits. I attend seminars and sessions with high calibre coaches, because it acts as a constant reminder to me, as to what I should be doing, and helps me take action. Sometimes, it’s about going back to basics.

It’s important to continue to grow; to continue to make small changes. Whether it’s for your health, your career, your finances, or your relationships.

Just like the piano tuner, we have to continually readjust. Over time, small changes can make a big difference.

What small changes are you working on at the moment? And what’s the big difference you hope they’ll make?


Don’t let your goals slip away

Don't let your goals slip away

Another financial year has wrapped up and in less than 20 weeks time you will be doing some unwrapping in the form of presents sitting underneath a certain festive tree.  So how is this year tracking for you?

I hate to be that person to break the news, but it is true… we are almost half way through the calendar year.

So I have to ask…How are your New Year’s resolutions going?  You know the ones…remember? Are you still a tee-total, jogging and going to the gym each day? Are you spending more time with the family and taking life less seriously?

Or have those life affirming resolutions been flung from your memory and only able to be seen fleetingly as you glance in the rear view mirror of your car as you race to work through traffic.

Oh and that other dreaded resolution….that jogging routine? Are you out and about jogging 5kms every day? Or are you enjoying the nice warmth of your bed in the morning saying to yourself, “OK,  I am going to get up in 5 minutes”.

Don’t let your goals slip away.

It is a great time to take stock of your goals and get a refresh on where you are heading. Start working on that fit body to swoon around envious friends and colleagues at that impending Christmas party. Start paying down debt or saving for that Fijian holiday.

Goals are what give us direction in life and to achieve your goals you need to ensure they stay in the forefront of your mind. Keep in mind that your goals are like a petulant child that will do their best to disobey you once you have turned your back.

Pin your goal to the fridge, place it on the pin board at home, keep a photo of it in your purse or wallet. Keep it front row and centre. This way, your future ‘jogging’ resolution won’t just be the re-jogging of your memory, but be you taking ownership and direction in your life and you will ensure that your goals indeed do become a reality.


Visualising a new reality

Visualising a new reality

Goal setting allows you to create the kind of future you want, independent of what others want you to do or are doing themselves.

It starts with seeing something in your future that doesn’t currently exist. The more details you specify, the more your mind takes ownership of the result.

  • What does it looks like?
  • What does it feel like?
  • How will you know when you’ve achieved it?

Once you have a clear vision and have filled in the details, your mind needs a deadline to take it seriously.

There’s no such thing as an unrealistic goal; only an unrealistic deadline. So when you set your deadline, make sure it’s challenging and exciting, but also achievable.

Goal setting helps you take increased ownership of your future and your past. As a result, you have control of your present. This gives you ownership over your entire life, regardless of the circumstances that surround you.

Goal setting is a never ending learning process. Each goal you set will teach you something new.

Progress towards your goals will allow you to transform yourself continually as a person; to transform your relationships; and to transform the quality of your entire life.

Become a part of a community of future focused learners. One thing I’m part of is a study group, which gets together regularly for a full day, and we share goals and outcomes.

Surround yourself with the best people possible to talk about important things; set inspiring goals; share strategies and lend support. You’ll be challenged and stretched by others who look at their future in the same way you do. Your learning will help your creativity. You’ll find new inspiration and ideas, as well as renewed confidence and energy.

Your brain will continually grow from the stimulation of achieving new goals, and as a result, your future will always be bigger than your past.

Always try to improve. Always try to get better. Think big.

Ultimately, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.


How to cultivate goals

How to cultivate goals

Your life has many different dimensions, and goals are the fuel for growth in all these areas. They include personal health and fitness, relationships, business growth, and personal finances, to name a few.

In all these areas, you need to think with the end in mind. Understand what the ultimate outcome is that you desire, and work back from there.

You also need to understand the underlying motivations for your goals. Why are they important to you? What difference will they make to your life?

This understanding will play a crucial role in changing the habits that need to be changed in order for you to achieve your goals.

And don’t forget to consider all timeframes – from the very short to the end of your life. They’re all important.

Finally, here are five tips for cultivating your goals:

  1. Paint a very clear vision of your future. Dream.
  2. Choose your words carefully. Fill in the details of your dreams and write them down.
  3. Focus on the process as well as the end result. Enjoy the process.
  4. Use your goals to fuel your learning.
  5. Share your goals with those around you so you’ll have greater accountability and support.

A goal is a dream with a deadline

A goal is a dream with a deadline

Goals need to be SMART if they are to be achieved. Most of you know this already but for those that don’t, SMART goals are:

  • Specified – written down and clearly defined
  • Measurable – defined in terms of time, kilos, dollars etc, so you know when you have achieved the goal
  • Achievable – you need to be able to set down the steps you will have to take to reach the goal
  • Realistic – don’t be unrealistic; the goal has to be within the realm of possibility
  • Time-bound – this is the deadline part of the goal; always decide when you will achieve it by or it could stretch on for eternity!

Do your goals meet the SMART criteria? If not, have a quick rethink and make sure they do, so you can start achieving more in 2014.