March 7, 2012 – Dreams – whether they be of winning this month’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament or securing the Republican presidential nomination – cannot be achieved without first setting goals. Establishing goals is paramount to accomplishing any successful endeavor, including realizing the financial future you envision. According to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, setting attainable personal financial goals and establishing a system of accountability are vital steps to financial security that require time and thoughtful consideration.
“In the context of financial planning, consumers often mistakenly set goals without setting out a vision for their financial future,” says Blayney. “The key to setting goals – be they financial or other – that can make a meaningful impact on your life is taking a systematic approach that first defines where you want to be at a given future date and then empowers you to set ‘smart’ goals that can achieve that future.”
Establishing “smart” financial goals is one of the 12 steps in CFP Board’s year-long “12 for ’12 Approach to Financial Confidence.” Blayney recommends five key strategies consumers can use in setting successful financial goals.
- Create goals that are motivational but also realistic. Setting goals that are impractical and out-of-reach have the consequence of keeping you stuck exactly where you are.
- Plan goals for the short and the long term. Without tackling the immediate problems of debt or failure to save, you will never get a chance at realizing your long-term financial vision.
- Establish priorities. Each of your goals may be realistic on their own, but the decision needs to be made at the outset of your planning as to which are more important to you.
- Recognize the importance of time. It’s a common mistake to specify a future goal in terms of today’s dollar amount. By not specifying the right goal, you set yourself up for choosing the wrong financial strategies later in the planning process.
- Be flexible. New opportunities, unforeseen personal circumstances and volatile markets may occur, requiring you to reset your financial destination, in terms of where you want to arrive and by when.
Blayney offers one final piece of advice to keep consumers accountable for the financial goals they set: “Put your goals in writing. If you are working with a CFP® professional, this will certainly be part of his or her practice. It’s been established by research studies time and time again that when you have written goals, as part of a written financial plan, your chances of financial success go up significantly.”
12 FOR ’12: AN APPROACH TO FINANCIAL CONFIDENCE: In January, CFP Board launched a new initiative called “12 for ’12 Approach to Financial Confidence” where all the components and steps for successful personal financial management are presented, one each month throughout the year including: establishing realistic goals, tax planning, emergency and risk management, investing, retirement, debt management, and estate planning.
ABOUT CFP BOARD: The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board's mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP® certificants and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 65,000 individuals to use these marks in the United States.
Dan Drummond, Director of Public Relations
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