The Importance of a Goal

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ll know that we have a goal to retire from our jobs in just six years.

However, what you may not know is, until about a week before we published that post, we didn’t actually have a firm goal.

Big mistake!

We have found that there is a direct correlation between setting a goal and achieving it.Β Sure, sometimes we achieve things that we didn’t set as a goal, but more often than not, the act of setting the goal is imperative.

Poopsie and I did have a plan to retire early. But that’s roughly where our plan ended. We didn’t have a date in mind and we didn’t have a magic number in mind. How then, were we going to know when we’d be ready to retire?

We wouldn’t have. We would have probably ended up working for longer than we needed to, and we probably would not have saved as much because having a vague goal somewhere in the future can be demotivating.

These dolphins have goals, and they meet them during every show.

Instead, when we sat down and worked out we were going to retire in six years, we now had something specific to aim toward.

Suddenly, we knew how much we had to save, and that we would only reach this number if we saved over 50% of our income every month.

Setting this goal really helped us on our path to early retirement. We started a countdown (see to your right), we realised we didn’t have much time left at all and we became even more determined to find efficiencies in our lifestyle in order to save more.

So why does setting a goal change things so much?

I think it’s because it makes it real. Before, we had a vague idea of saving so we could retire early, but it wasn’t real to us. Setting a date suddenly made it real. Every day that went by, we were one tangible step closer to our goal. This was incredibly motivating, and kept us focussed and determined.

We recommend to everyone who is interested in early retirement to set a goal and work toward it. What’s the worst that could happen?

For us, the worst that could happen is in six years time, we aren’t ready to retire. However, after having worked toward it for six years, we’ll have an enormous amount of savings to our name, which cannot be construed as a bad thing. We might not quite have enough but we’ll be so much closer than if we hadn’t set the goal.

Do you have a goal for your financial future? What is it? Do you find it easier to save when you have a goal in mind? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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18 Responses to The Importance of a Goal

  1. Miss Balance says:

    Absolutely! I was doing ok before with savings, but now that I’ve set a solid stretch goal for this year I have saved so much more then I would have otherwise.
    6 years is amazing though! You must have also been doing fairly well naturally before, though imagine how much you have shaved off now that you are making the extra effort. Had you done the calcs?

  2. I agree! The “soft goals” can help, but they tend to be a bit fuzzy and not fully helpful. “Hard goals”, however, tend to be easier to stick to because I can be stubborn and have a hard line “meet” or “didn’t meet” the goal. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Agree completely. So much so that I think setting the goal is an important milestone in it’s own right. It can take a few attempts to get the magnitude of the goal right, especially when you’re still finding your way, but it does propel you along.

    Today I actually had (and posted about) the strange experience of surpassing a goal I thought was years away. It has me in fully ‘pinch myself’ mode.

    p.s. I want to go to wherever that beautiful last photo is, with the water, rainbow, and riverboats! Where is it?

    • Isn’t it amazing when you surpass a goal? We recently did and we were so pleased!

      The lovely photo is from Niagara Falls. We did a post about it a few months ago (check under the “Where We’ve Travelled” tab) and Poopsie managed to get some sensational photos!

  4. Mrs. ETT says:

    We’re still sort of at a vague goal – retire early. I’m not sure why, but I’m almost afraid to set a solid goal. Maybe because it’s so far in the future? Maybe because I’m afraid of failure? Or the hard work that we’d have to put in to reach it? This is something I’m going to have to put more thought into. I love seeing your goal and the countdown. I wonder why I’m not ready to do the same?

  5. LadyFIRE says:

    This is so true! And exactly why I started my blog and named it FIRE by Thirty-Five. So it smacks me in the face every time I open the blog.

    I also cope better with ‘do more’ goals, than with ‘do less’. E.g. my ‘save $20k in 7 months’ was a do less goal, I had to spend less. I struggled and only made it to $15k.

    My current goal is a do more – invest more! Every week when I check over the finances I look for a few spare dollars to push towards the investments. Maybe it’s because it’s a new goal, but it’s been far more effective. I’ve already thrown an extra $400 in the pot.

    C’mon freedom!

    • Miss Balance says:

      Interesting what you say about ‘do more’ goals – I also find these much easier to follow. I struggle to cut spending, especially if it means giving up time with family/friends or giving back to the community, but a goal to earn more so I can still afford to do these things is something I can really get on-board with!

    • That’s interesting about the title of your blog smacking you in the face everytime you read it. “Adventures with Poopsie” doesn’t quite have the same effect. Hmmm, maybe a name change is needed πŸ˜‰

      Glad to hear you’re having success with your invest more goal! Keep it up!

      • LadyFIRE says:

        I think your title does a great job of clearly setting out what your priority is πŸ™‚ Adventures With Poopsie definitely does not equal ‘stuck behind a desk at a job you don’t like for another 30 years’

  6. Pia says:

    I definitely agree with having goals. I think without a goal, you tend to just fluff around and allow the lines to be blurred. When we had to save for our wedding, we were fairly strict with the budget. But once the wedding was done, we fell back into our old habits again. With our new goals, I am actually excited to review the trackings and budgets again once more.

    • Definitely! A friend of mine wanted to save $30k for a home deposit which they did, very dilligently. As soon as they reached $30k, they just stopped. I tried to convince them to continue to save (why not have a bigger deposit) but without the goal, they fell back into their regular spending. Goals are so important!

  7. Totally agree. Our goal is to retire by 2025. I also really believe in breaking the goal down into what is required to achieve it.

    It is interesting, since I have started my blog and put it on paper, we have made some major decisions to actually help us try and get their even quicker than that.

  8. I didn’t really have financial goals until I started my blog. I only really have ‘save money’ as my ultimate goal, which was too general and vague that it didn’t push me to work harder. I agree, having specific (smart) goals make everything real. I still don’t have RE in my goals, but this post also applies to me. After all, ‘invest $10k outside super annually’ is still so much better than ‘save money’. πŸ™‚

  9. Really nice post AWP. I agree completely, goals really focus the mind and get people aiming. We haven’t set a time-based end goal yet, we’re too early in the journey. We have set goals based on how much we’re going to invest each month, which will get us a long way towards the FIRE goal.

    Good luck with your goal, I’m sure you’ll get there πŸ™‚

    Mr DDU

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