Our Process for Achieving Goals

By: Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP®

There’s an old saying: “what gets measured, gets done.” I’ve read it many times in different business books and can attest to it in my personal life. For instance, I’ve been wanting to lose a few pounds (like 15-20) to be healthier. I was motivated, to a degree, but never made any actual traction on my goal. I ate ok, exercised plenty, and that was basically it.

It wasn’t until this Summer that I started to weigh myself on a regular basis. I always hated doing it, but I figured let me take my own advice for a change. So, I did and started to weigh (measure) myself every day. What started to happen is I lost a pound, then two, then three. It was like a game to me, and if you know me, you know I love games and competition. Slowly, but surely, the pounds came off and I actually paid attention to what I was doing with the rest of my life to keep those pounds off.

I’d like to report, as of writing this, I’m officially down 16 pounds! I’ve heard many similar stories over the past few months and kudos to you all. Now, let’s pivot to how this is relevant to the financial planning world.

I often see clients with a specific goal in mind. It could be to get out of debt, pay off their mortgage, retire early, or buy that beach home. Whatever one’s financial goals are, our job as lifelong advisors aren’t simply to identify the goal, but rather see it to fruition.

How do we do it exactly? You guessed it, by watching and measuring progress towards those goals. You see coming up with a financial goal and praying it comes true is like me trying to lose weight blindly. Your goal will lack direction, guidance, and knowledge, especially if we don’t closely track it.

Here’s how the process of accomplishing one’s goal works at Diversified Lifelong Advisors.

Identify the goal and the metrics – At our firm, we use a couple different modeling systems to start seeing what’s realistic and what needs to be done to accomplish a particular goal. This could be anything from increasing savings, to cutting out an expense. This officially marks the beginning of the measuring and watching process. We’ve now collaboratively and officially identified the goal(s) we’re going to accomplish and what we need to watch/measure to get there.

Start making adjustments & watching your measurements – This is a two-phased process. Now that we’ve identified what needs to be changed, it’s incumbent upon the individual to begin making the agreed upon adjustments. We can help as much as possible, but at the end of the day, I won’t be there to tell you not to eat that second piece of cake or buy that extra pair of shoes.

Dual accountability & tracking – The plan is set and we’re underway. Now what? This is the longest, but possibly the most critical part of the goal achieving process. We have to regularly meet and check how you’re doing. Are you staying the course? Can we increase efforts to expedite the goal, or do we have to pull back due to extenuating circumstances? This is where we hold each other accountable and we go back to our trusted modeling software to check on progress. I’d equate it to a doctor check-up, where we have to take a full body scan, see how things are trending, and discuss any adjustments needed. It’s a very critical step as I mentioned and the hardest to do. It takes long term commitment from both parties.

The finish line is in sight – Most large financial goals don’t happen overnight. Unlike weight loss (which can take 6-12 months), a large financial goal may take years or even decades. It’s why choosing the right partner to assist in this process, hold you accountable, and genuinely be your cheerleader is critical. As the goal nears, and you can start to visualize it, the final leg of your race has begun.

It’s important at this stage not to give up measuring and tracking. We have to see this thing through. Often as the goal is crystalizing, it’s likely time to adjust the goal. Those that are far out generally are a bit loose in specifics, like what’s the actual beach house look like. With the end nearing, it’s time to fine tune the costs and decide what are the steps to cross the finished line.

Celebrate and start a new measurement to watch – The most fun part of this watching process is finally here. We’ve measured, sacrificed, and gone through tons of emotions. First, we must celebrate together. Probably the best part of my job is being there to watch people achieve their goals. We get just as excited as you do, believe it or not, as achieving these goals is special for us. But we can’t rest yet, now it’s time to recalibrate what to do post realizing this goal. Are there new goals to now focus on? Have you freed up capital to redeploy? The big question is, what’s next? This takes a lot of dialogue and framing the conversation to refocus on what next will make you happy.

Get that tape

measure out.

The goal-achieving process is one of the most critical ones I can think of. Achieving one’s goals cuts to the fabric of who they are and what truly makes them happy. The key to why we do anything really is happiness. Finding that right partner, figuring out what metrics we should be following, and working the goal is all part of the process. If done correctly, the end game is realizing your wildest dreams and true happiness.

As always stay wealthy, healthy, and happy!

Financial planning and Investment advisory services offered through Diversified, LLC. Securities offered through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, Member FINRA/SIPC. Headquartered at 80 State Street, Albany, NY 12207. Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments and Diversified, LLC are not affiliated companies.