Achieving financial goals and creating sustainable, long-term financial behavioral change relies on individuals understanding the importance of setting goals and using a proven strategy to improve the chances of achieving those goals.
Family and community advocates who wish to empower others to make positive financial changes in their lives—everything from reducing credit card debt to creating financial security by building financial assets—can use these 5 steps for achieving financial goals as a helpful guide.
Importance of Goal Setting for Financial Behavioral Change
Goal setting offers community and family advocates one of the best methods for empowering others to achieve sustainable, positive financial change. Why is this the case? Goal setting offers perspective on the past—along with the opportunity to learn from it. It addresses the present and provides a fresh, new, more hopeful point of view of the future.
Goals matter because they:
- Provide the need and opportunity to plan for the future.
- Make life more interesting because success brings satisfaction.
- Are inherently solution-oriented and create unconscious, as well as conscious, movement in their direction.
- Are personal, individual, and not determined by another person or mandate.
- Motivate achievement and once identified, their constant life-presence requires attention.
- Incentivize action when accompanied by a plan.
- Teach patience.
- Facilitate a new way of thinking and living.
- Can be simple or complicated—whichever best meets an individual’s needs.
Family and community advocates who wish to empower individuals to create a life of financial stability for both themselves and their families share this importance of setting following goals and taking action to achieve financial goals.
Start with S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Goals are the hopes, dreams and wishes of individuals put in writing. Taking the time to write the things you want most in your life is the first step for turning them into reality. This is how your thoughts are transformed into commitment; commitment is the foundation for all change.
Family advocates and community advocates helping others begin the goal-setting process should start by introducing these individuals to the S.M.A.R.T. goal method. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. They are a useful tool for improving the chances of attaining goals. Read our post about how to introduce others to the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting method here.
5 Steps for Achieving Financial Goals
You’ve shared the importance of goal-setting and how to create S.M.A.R.T. goals. Now it is time to introduce the five steps for achieving financial goals and, in turn, achieving sustainable, long-term financial change. Use these five steps, which are introduced in more detail in the Financial Social Work certification, to empower individuals, parents and families to move from financial insecurity to financial security.
Commit: No one succeeds without commitment—commitment indicates your sincerity, determination and seriousness about doing what needs to be done to succeed. Individuals should put their goals in writing as this puts them out into the universe; this action makes them more believable and achievable.
Take Action: While the name of this step speaks for itself, there are ways to improve the probability of both taking action towards achieving goals and continuing those necessary actions. An accountability partner—someone to motivate, support and hold one accountable—can be the difference between failure and success.
Reinforce: Support others in their commitment to achieve their financial goals by helping them anticipate and prepare for setbacks and failure, and forget about self-blame when they fail. Help them find ways to reinforce their internal resolve.
Assess and Reassess: Individuals must know—on a monthly basis—where they are in the goal process for each of their financial goals. Help them appreciate and learn from failure and help them appreciate and learn from success.
Update and Adjust: As individuals, couples and families follow the road to achieving their financial goals, there will be roadblocks and successes along the way. It will be up to you to engage, educate, motivate and support them with the necessary means to update and adjust without losing sight of the goal at the end of the road.
Community advocates and family advocates wishing to learn more about goal-setting and how to implement a strategy for teaching others how to apply these 5 steps for achieving financial goals, should take a look at the Financial Social Work certification and Financial Education Support Group Kit.
Written By Reeta Wolfsohn, CMSW
5 Steps for Achieving Financial Goals – A Helpful Guide for Family and Community Advocates was originally published @ Center for Financial Social Work and has been syndicated with permission.