In the personal finance world, there is a lot of talk – pretty much constantly – about the importance of goals. It’s so much easier to work on your finances when you have a distinct goal or two in mind. Goals like buying a house, retiring early, going on a big trip, etc.
For the past two years I’ve been trying to conjure up my big goals, a couple of really huge things I want from life that will give me the extra “umph” I need to really get my finances in order. It would be so much less of a struggle if I had something really driving my efforts to spend less and save more.
But here’s the problem: I still don’t think I really know yet what I want my life to look like.
This thought hit me like a bolt of lightening when I woke up in the middle of the night last night. And the strange thing is, it was an oddly familiar realization. Like, I knew I had felt that way before, but luckily I fell asleep before I could pinpoint it.
When I woke up this morning, I knew: I used to feel this way in high school and the beginning of college all the time when I was thinking about my career path. I would sometimes feel depressed about all of the A.P. courses I was taking and all the hard work I was putting myself through, for a future that I just couldn’t envision.
But at some point I came around to an important realization – even if I didn’t know exactly what I wanted career-wise that day, someday I would. And when that day came, I wanted options. A bullet-proof transcript gave me options. All the college credit I got from taking so many A.P. classes gave me options. Outstanding letters of recommendation from my professors because I worked so hard in their classes gave me options. When I decided to apply for my master’s in education, I was ready.
I think I’m going to start thinking about my finances the same way. I don’t know what I want today, and I am working hard to figure it out. But I need to be sure that when I do make the big decisions, I have options. Being debt free gives me options. Having a fat savings account gives me options.
Working towards big life goals is a great, great thing. But for right now I have to just believe that working as hard as I can to get financially ready for the next big thing in my life will pay off, the same way working really hard in school did.
What big life goals keep you motivated to stick with your financial goals?