High Heels and Finance: The Written Word

High Heels and Finance: The Written Word

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The Power of the Written Word
How many books have been bought, articles read and motivational talks heard on the importance of writing down your goals? This has been drilled into my head over the last decade in every professional position I’ve held. It is a process I do instinctually when starting a new project with a team. It is something we all do on a day in and day out basis with our “to do” lists. But how many of us have taken the time to write down our goals for our personal lives?


Over the past month I have been on a personal journey to discover and document my personal purpose, priorities, goals and vision statement. During the last 15 years, I have read a small library of personal and professional development books. As expected, only about 10% of them are worth finishing and only five are worth multiple reads. To be clear, that’s five books, not 5% of the books I’ve read. One of the five is Dr. Jason Selk’s book, Executive Toughness. In his book, Dr. Selk delivers a much more digestible version of some of the same concepts that are delivered in Napoleon Hill’s famous, Think and Grow Rich, specifically, the importance of and a process for gaining clarity around goals and vision.


Many motivational speakers reference a Harvard study on the effectiveness of having written goals. The study showed that 3% of Harvard’s graduating MBA class made more than the remaining 97% combined, due to the fact that they wrote down their goals. Unfortunately, this study has never actually been found. But, a clinical psychologist at Dominican University wanted to answer the question around the impact that written goals can have on outcome. Dr. Gail Matthews conducted a study and documented the results. Dr. Matthews’ study showed that those who wrote their goals accomplished 50% more than those without written goals. (http://cdn.sidsavara.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/researchsummary2.pdf) While these results are not as impactful as the findings of the alleged Harvard study, it is empirical evidence that cannot be ignored.


So, what does writing down your goals have to do with financial planning? Everything.


It’s easy to talk about dreams of taking expensive vacations, going on shopping sprees on 5th Avenue and retiring at 60 with as much or more income as we have now. But, without a plan, these dreams will never be realized. The problem isn’t that we won’t have the time, but that we won’t have the money. Please hear me when I say that 98% of Americans will retire and have less than $40,000 of annual income. While our dreams may not specifically revolve around money, most of them do require it.


This is where dreaming turns into planning. The first step is to go shopping. (How many financial planners have ever told you to go shopping?) You need to spend some time actually visualizing the reality of your dream and determining how much it will actually cost. So, run some internet searches and price shop for the things it will take to make your dream become a reality. Once you know how much money you need to save, make a plan to set aside a specific amount every month. When setting your monthly “save”, remember that if it doesn’t sting a little, it’s not enough. If this seems overwhelming, start with something small. Save for a vacation before you save for a car or before you save for a house. Once you get used to the process, you will be able to apply it to larger and larger dreams.


If you can dream for it, you can plan for it and you can have it! So, write down your goals and go shopping.