Maturing Financial Goals: Change Can Be Good

Today’s post shares insights about goal setting and how those goals change as you mature and priorities shift.  Carl Richards, author of “The Behavior Gap” shares his thoughts about this cycle of ever changing goals and how priorities drive change. 


Give Your Goals Time to Grow Up by Carl Richards


In the U.S., the upcoming long weekend over the Memorial Day holiday marks the unofficial start to summer. But that’s not how the holiday started. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was meant to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers. Over time, the honor was expanded to include all who died in military service. I know that today many of us also use this holiday to remember and celebrate all of our loved ones who’ve died.

Memorial Day is a perfect example of how something that starts out meaning one thing can grow and change to become something else just as meaningful, but different than the original. I think about this concept a lot in the context of setting goals.

I think it’s happened to everyone. You set a goal in your 20s or 30s, but by the time you reach your 40s, that goal has had to adapt to the changes in you and around you. But we aren’t always very good or graceful about admitting how those goals have changed. Often we get so caught up in the idea of the original goal that we miss seeing the opportunity in changing our minds.

For instance, let’s say you set the goal in your 20s to buy a house in your 30s, take a three-month vacation around Europe in your 40s, buy a boat in your 50s, and retire in your 60s. But you reach your 30s and you travel a lot for business. So even though you set the goal of buying a house in your 30s, does it still make sense to stick with that goal if you aren’t around to enjoy it?

Then you reach your 40s and you’ve got the goal of spending three months in Europe, but you spent most of your 30s traveling for business. Do you force yourself to still take the trip or is finally the right time to buy your dream home? In your 20s, you were convinced you’d love owning a boat in your 50s, but then the day arrives and you realize that old saying is true: The two happiest days for a boat owner are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells the boat.

Finally, we reach your last goal of retiring in your 60s, but the reality is that you’ve still got lots of opportunities and you enjoy your work. Do you still retire?

In some ways, it would have been really easy for Decoration Day to slip into the past as all those connected to the Civil War died. Instead, over time, it grew into something more.

What would happen if we showed this same adaptability with our goals? What if instead of tying ourselves to things we must do, we start thinking in terms of things we can do? To be clear, I’m not advocating aimlessly wandering through life. Instead, I’m encouraging you to be open to possibility, to be open to the reality that what you wanted 10 years ago may not fit very well with the life you have today.

A Bad Cycle

And with that acceptance comes the opportunity to break the cycle of beating up on ourselves for not checking more things off the list. Maybe, like just about everything else in life, we need to give our goals time to grow up and become what we really need as opposed to what we thought we needed however many years ago.



The information in this article is not intended to be tax and/or legal advice and should not be treated as such. You should consult with your tax advisor and/or attorney to discuss your personal situation before making any decisions.

Additionally, If you are looking for additional help, seek help from a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional that can look at your individual situation holistically