What are your goals in life?
“I want to be financially successful”.
Ask a hundred people what their goals in life are, and I bet most (if not all) will include something along those lines.
Achieving something means you accomplished something you intentionally set out to do, which means you can’t succeed without first having set a goal.
According to Dictionary.com, a goal is “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end”, which implies that you know when you’ve achieved your goal with certainty. This means most people’s idea of a financial goal (i.e. “financial success”) doesn’t actually qualify as a goal.
So what makes a good goal? Read any number of textbooks and articles and they’ll tell you goals have to be SMART:
Specific – A goal must clearly define the desired end result.
Measurable – A goal must be quantifiable so you can determine with certainty whether or not you’ve achieved your goal.
Attainable – By all means, set high goals and push yourself, but don’t set impossible goals. You’ll only get discouraged and stop progressing if your goals are à la MI6. (Apparently a 5th Mission Impossible is set to come out this year?!) Goals should be something you are able and willing to work towards. Don’t give yourself a food budget of $20 a week if just have to have a good ol’ steak every other day.
Relevant – Is this relevant to your stage in life right now? If you don’t have kids and aren’t expecting any in the near future, don’t plan for RESPs.
Time-Based – Set a deadline for your goal, a firm date by which you must achieve your target.
That said, “Unchained at 55” is only half a goal. It’s attainable and realistic, and the deadline is a defined number of years, but it is not specific or measurable – yet. How much will I need to have accumulated to know that I’ve achieved Unchained status? That’s a figure still to be determined, thus step 1 is to identify that number so I can set Goal #1.
What are your goals?