A story about goals

When we think about our goals in life, we often think about those major ones that we can see clearly arriving from somewhere over the horizon.

We think about things like our retirement, or that next promotion that may change our income, or the birth of a child or grandchild.

We see our goals as the big things that will make all of the difference, the major events that we save towards and celebrate.

But goals are not always major events. They don’t always make a big ‘splash’ when we reach them. They’re not always signposted and, just sometimes, we can’t always see them as we approach.

Over the years, working with clients to help them to achieve their goals, we’ve learned a lot about what a goal is, how it comes to be something that someone wants, what it looks like and what it feels like when they get there.

Sometimes, during the planning stage at least, we can all be focused on the large goals so much that we miss the small ones along the way.

Some time ago, we talked to a client whose goal was to ‘have enough’. We talked to them frequently about this goal, but they never seemed to settle on exactly how much ‘enough’ was. At some point we talked to them a little more and it emerged that they had always wanted to travel to America, but never felt that they could. We showed them that it was more than possible with the wealth they had accumulated.

That client never would have said that ‘going to America’ was a goal, but the trip gave them more satisfaction than ‘having enough’.

Circumstances can also change goals, but that doesn’t mean that they need to be any less satisfying. Another client of ours experienced a divorce. This is a sad moment for anyone, one of many that none of us like to think about but which we may, nevertheless, experience at some point.

This client’s goal suddenly changed. They wanted to know that they were financially secure. That they could secure for themselves a property and that their financial plan was still on track, despite their change in circumstances. This goal would never have been discussed before, but the satisfaction that it delivered when we confirmed to the client that their plan was as it should be was worth at least as much as previous, happier goals.

The moral of those stories is that goals can be both small and large, planned for and unexpected. The small ones may pass us by, but that doesn’t mean they are unimportant. The large ones may feel like an anticlimax, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be planned for.

No matter what your goals are, large or small, plan for them, recognise them when you achieve them and enjoy the moment. It does not need to be a big thing to make all of the difference to your experience of life.