I want to share my financial wealth with my children so they will be happy.
I want to start a new business that will make me a lot of money.
I want to retire, kick back and just enjoy life.
At first glance, these all seem like obvious choices. Of course we want to share our wealth with our kids so they can be happy, make a lot of money, and have the means to retire and live the good life.
But do we?
If we give our adult children lots of money, will we deprive them of the satisfaction of making it on their own?
If the primary focus of our new business is to make lots of money, will we work incessantly and damage our most important relationships?
If we retire and simply relax, where will we find the challenges that fuel our passions?
Sometimes the goal we think we want to reach is not really the one that best serves us or accomplishes what we want for ourselves. To make sure we are working towards the right goal, we need to clarify what it is we really want.
Ask yourself these questions to help you clarify your goal:
• Is achieving that goal consistent with the life I want to lead and my values?
• Have I considered all the costs involved with making the choices I need to make to achieve that goal?
• What will achieving that goal do for me or for others, both good and bad?
• What will my life be like if I achieve that goal?
With answers to these questions, you can tailor a clear goal that serves the life you want to lead, is consistent with your values and incurs only the costs you are knowingly willing to pay.
Having a clear, values-driven goal can be a powerful and motivating force. It can energize you and keep you focused when obstacles appear along the way, as they inevitably do.
For example, let's say you are using some of your money to start a new business. You say that your goal is to make a lot of money. But when you ask yourself the questions above, you realize that you would have to work 100 hours a week to make the amount of money you had in mind. That is not consistent with the life you want to lead and the costs to the relationships with your spouse and children are not ones you are willing to pay.
All choices have consequences, so when you choose the goals you wish to focus on, those choices will affect your life in some manner. Remember to consider what all the consequences -- good and bad -- may be when setting your goals.
After considering these questions, you might choose to modify your goal. Instead of just focusing on the money, your revised goal might be to build a business that allows you to do what you love, earn enough to provide a comfortable lifestyle for you and your family and leaves you with sufficient time to spend with your spouse and kids.
Setting a clear goal should always be about more than money. It should be about reaching that goal serves your life best.
As American journalist George Lorimer said, "It is good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven't lost the things money can't buy."
So when you are setting goals for yourself in the New Year, allow a little extra time to dig deeper by asking yourself the questions above. Then you'll be able to clarify your goals so you'll be working towards accomplishments that serve you and your loved ones best while paying a price that you are willing to pay.
David Geller is the author of Wealth & Happiness: Using Your Wealth to Create a Better Life. He is the CEO of Atlanta-based GV Financial Advisors and is available for professional speaking engagements.