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How to identify your real financial goals

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Many of the goals that people rattle out are off the top of their heads and hence not properly thought through.

How to identify your real financial goals
Ever wondered what’s the purpose of life? We must all have wondered about this some time or other. While this is deep stuff and one can spend a lifetime figuring this out, there is another that is more proximate and needs our attention. We need to figure out we want to do in life. This looks less daunting, but daunting nevertheless.
We need some goals to pursue. Most find setting goals to be difficult; many say they have never really thought about it. Most eventually come up with the typical stuff - like acquiring a home, car, vacation, children’s education, retirement etc. These could be important goals. But, are these the goals that would add to one’s satisfaction with life? This really needs to be pondered.
Many of the goals that people rattle out are off the top of their heads and hence not properly thought through. If one were to subject these goals to careful scrutiny, they may just wither away, as they have not come from deep within.
Goals like a second car are there as friends and colleagues have one and it becomes a must-have. Goals like a second home, third home etc may be investment goals. Retirement funding is a universal goal that’s very important for all of us, but none of us seems to give an adequate thought about. Most want to reach a certain corpus with which to retire - like say, Rs3 crore. Whether it would be possible to achieve this figure or whether this amount is good enough to fund one’s entire retirement phase is unknown.
Pursuit of Empowerment
The more important question is whether these are the real goals, whether these goals look like something worth pursuing and one is excited about. Let’s tackle the second part of the question first … many people I have talked to, consider their goals burdensome that are exerting too much pressure on them. Hence, these people are not able to enjoy life while pursuing these goals. Life seems to be dragging along and they feel stressed trying to keep pace with the demands needed to achieve these goals.
If many of these goals are not empowering, are these real goals? This is the question we need to ask ourselves. Do we really need the second & third houses? Does it make sense to take on multiple EMIs, be worried sick about how much loans one has & what will happen if one loses the job? Many of these goals do not add any quality to life; in fact, it detracts one from living a fulfilling life.
So, what is a fulfilling life and what could be those goals which will help us live a life of meaning, go from one day to the next in joyous anticipation, live the life one always wanted & achieve their highest potential. That could differ from person to person. But most often, they are not going to be goals like buying a second/third home. For most people such goals add to loans, brings on stress.
When the goal is achieved, it does not bring delight - it rather just brings a huge sense of relief. Why pursue such goals in the first place?
The goals or what we ardently pursue should be invigorating. We need to ponder deeply and ask ourselves as to what is truly important for us in life, what would bring us delight, vigour and vitality; what would help us experience freedom and empowerment, what is that we would truly want to achieve, whom do we want to become … Answers to this would decide what we truly want in life.
Separating The Important and Unimportant  
Sometimes the answers may even surprise us. We may truly want to do something entirely different from what we are doing today. Many of our so called goals from the past may not hold any meaning and may melt away, once we find out what is truly important for us.
Once we identify what’s truly important for us in life and work towards fulfilling them, life will acquire a fine quality and become scintillating. The financial goals will be there and there is nothing wrong about that. They are no longer going to be a drag like they were before. Life would then become meaningful and enjoyable.
Identifying the true goals are so important. If your destination is wrong, the direction is going to be wrong & our efforts would take us away from the goal. It would make sense to ponder over what one wants to do in life, isn’t it?
Suresh Sadagopan is a Certified Financial Planner and runs Ladder7 Financial Advisories, a fee-only financial planning firm