What do you see in your future? Can you clearly visualize what’s ahead?
One of the benefits of visualizing your future is that it begins to retrain your brain to take action to achieve what you’re visualizing. For a professional athlete, or a public speaker, this exercise can remove fear and anxiety and has been shown to improve their outcomes.
Visualizing your future is important because it takes your goals and makes them feel realistic, bringing clarity and purpose to your actions now.
Think of yourself a few years in the future. What does that look like? Are you living somewhere new? Are there changes in your family? Do you have a new job? Are you retired? Once you visualize what your future looks like, take a few minutes to write down what you see (in other words, your goals). Just by writing them down, you’re making yourself more likely to achieve them! Seeing them in writing and putting the steps in place to achieve them will increase your focus on your goals and boost your confidence.
If your goals involve money (saving for a home, paying for college, retiring early, etc), they will require some planning, starting with making sure your budget reflects those goals. Instead of thinking about the money you’re no longer spending (not eating out or shopping as often), think about how the money you’re saving is getting you closer to the future you picture for yourself. Knowing why you are making these choices is your motivation to see your goals through to the end. So go back to the visualization of yourself in that new home, your child graduating college, or your stress-free financial future when you’ve paid off debts and are saving for retirement. Ready to set your goals? Here are some steps to get started:
Write down your goals, their time frame and priority.
Are they short, mid or long term? High, medium or low priority? Start with just your highest priorities.
Make each goal specific.
We recommend using the SMART goal method. For example, “I would like to save $1,000 in eight months for new furniture.”
Review/create your budget.
Are your future goals reflected in your budget? A goal without a plan is really just a wish. Your budget needs to include saving and investing for each of your goals. Don’t fall into the “I’ll save whatever I have left over at the end of the month” trap. Make your future a priority!
Determine amount needed and set up automated savings/ payments.
Automation sends your money where it needs to go and gives you one less task to do each month.
Review your goals periodically.
Life happens and things change. Are these still your goals and your priorities? Adjust as needed.
Monitor your progress.
Check in on a regular basis to see how you are progressing, and celebrate your small successes to re-energize yourself to keep going.