It can be so difficult to stay focused on long-term money goals like retirement. Realistically, it can be hard enough to consistently meet short-term goals like managing cash flow on a day-to-day basis (I’m sure it’s not just me!). A visual representation of goals is the best way to keep all your objectives front and center and a vision board is just the tool to use.
A goal-setting research study at Dominican University found that people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals simply by writing them down. But what if you take that a step further and not only write them down but also take steps to really visualize your goals? After all, Pinterest is successful for a reason: people respond to images.
The Game Changer: A Visual
I don’t buy a lot of things. After all, I’m an aspiring minimalist. However, I have to admit that I’m not immune to modern marketing. I too often buy things in order to reach that ideal image I have for myself that is so often portrayed in advertisements: a well-dressed and accessorized, confident and successful professional (that can get expensive fast!).
It’s that image in my mind that encourages me to spend money. I visualize my ideal self and fall into the comparison trap, not necessarily always comparing myself to others but also to that perfect version I have of myself.
If it was easier to visualize myself happily saving money in my IRA or brokerage account instead of spending money on things that I don’t always really, truly need, I would likely be better off. However, it just doesn’t work that way. It’s just not exciting to picture myself joyfully logging into my bank account and excitedly shifting money via electronic transfer for a possible future that’s 30 years down the road.
In order to really stay focused on all of my goals, I’ve found that it’s absolutely essential for me to be able to visualize them in concrete ways. And you know what? It turns out that everything I really want in life involves money in some way, even if it’s to simply have more time with family by working less. Money is extremely important, no matter what anyone says.
May I suggest that when you set goals for the new year you quantify them in terms of money as well? You’ll find that even those goals that you didn’t think had anything to do with money require some sort of financial resources.
After you’ve set your goals, the next step is to put together a plan to achieve them. A vision board can be a great part of that plan.
Get Specific About Your Goals
The first thing you’ll need to do is get really specific about your goals.
First, take your list of goals and classify them according to the following categories:
- Quality of Life
- Personal Growth
For each goal that you’ve written down and categorized, write out:
- What the goal is
- How much it will cost
- How you’re going to achieve it
- Why this is an important goal for you
- When you will achieve the goal by (the “due date”)
Then, the most important part is to have a picture or other visual that represents the goal. You could draw them yourself if you’re artistically talented, cut them from magazines or search for pictures online and print them out.
I have a printable for you so you can easily get started right away. To download it as a PDF file, click the preview below.
Set Up Your Vision Board (and Some Tips!)
A vision board really is an amazing tool that can be used along with your financial goals to really help you to stay focused. Once you’ve put together your goal visuals, there are just a couple additional things to note.
You’ll want to find a place for your vision board that you’ll see often. This could be:
- A bulletin board above your desk (that’s what I’m currently doing!)
- On the refrigerator
- As a cover for your financial plan binder, or in a binder if you don’t want others to see your goals
- Any other place that you see frequently
Simply put up all of your visuals and you’re done! Although, now the hard work begins. If you take the time to really pinpoint your goals, you can greatly increase the chances of your success!
What do you use to track or visualize your goals?