At many points in my life I’ve heard of the importance of having goals. From all the documentaries I used to watch all the way to people I look up to, I was told that it’s important to have goals in business, education, and many other aspects of my life. Whether they be short-term, medium-term and long-term, these goals would help me focus my life since I now have something realistic I am working towards; and goals would also help me set myself up for success – something I definitely want for both myself and those around me.
To be honest, no matter how many times I head this life-changing advice about having goals, I thought the idea was too foreign to be applicable in my life. The reason for my ignorance was simple and could be summarised in the following statement: “I am still young and have my whole life ahead of me. At the moment this goal thing is not for me. I’ll do it when I am finally serious about life; such as when I am finally settling down and have a family or something.” This was my mindset for the longest time, but fortunately it changed for the better; I finally saw the relevance of having goals and the positive impact it has on one’s life.
My first encounter with goal setting was when I started out in my investing journey in 2016. At the time I had little cash I could allocate to my investing and decided that saving up an adequate amount of money for investing would be the only way I could start. Little did I know at the time, but this became my first financial goal; my first goal-oriented goal. Although I did not write the goal down – something which is often recommended a person should do when committing to a particular goal – at the back of my mind I could see the goal clearly. Even before saving my first dime, at the time I could envision my first deposit into my investing account, I could see my first purchase of a share and how exciting that would be, and of course I could see the profits that came with the investing.
To cut a long story short, I did achieve my goal. In the months preceding my first deposit into the Standard Bank Share Investing Account, I had saved up my stipend without trouble. I made all the necessary budget adjustments (I was now buying only necessary groceries and not the luxuries I could afford to live without) and all the necessary sacrifices to get to my goal (I was now rain-checking all the parties I could go to that would leave me broke at the end of the day). To my surprise the process was simple, and it worked. Despite the sacrifices I made, and the fact that I had never saved a single dime before, I was making progress. This was a miracle my eyes and finally I could see the positive impact of having financial goals in my life.
These were all good and great times – times where Karabo was saving with a goal in mind – but what came after that were the truly difficult times. If in the months before making my initial deposit I was saving for my investing, now I tried to save with no clear goal in mind. If in the months before making my initial deposit the process of saving was easy and simple, not it was difficult. I would put money into my saving account only for it to disappear because it had to be used for some other non-important emergency. No matter how hard I tried, money could not stay in my savings account no matter how hard I tried to keep it there.
What I personally learnt from the entire experience was a simple lesson: goals do matter in setting up one for success. Between my goal-oriented self and my non-goal-oriented self, I discovered that I liked the goal-oriented Karabo more. I liked him because he can put money into his savings account and not use it for meaningless things that he can do without; He could achieve the financial goals he has up for himself.
Below are the lessons I personally learn that could help the next person who has always wanted to save money but would give up before saving up the amount that they wanted:
1. Save with clear a goal in mind
This is the basis of goal-oriented saving; without the goal the saving becomes more challenging that it has to be. It is important that the goal is clear and achievable. This is because without a clear goal, you can’t see the benefits of what you are saving for, thus making the process harder; and without the goal being achievable, you end up running an infinite marathon when it comes to your saving, this making the process harder.
2. If you can, taste the goal
This point, despite how weird it sounds, is very import; it is the secret sauce that makes the whole process of saving easier. If you can, you must see the vivid images and benefits of finally achieving your financial goal. In my case, I could see the happiness I would experience when I made my first deposit. I could also see the fear and excitement I would feel when I made my first investment with the money I had saved up. Constantly doing this made my mind clear about the goal I was working towards.
3. Change of mindset about saving
Don’t think of saving as a punishment, but rather as a necessary journey to help you get ahead in life.
4. Write your goals down
Some people are visual people and as a result they work towards their goals better when they see them written down on paper. This technique of writing goals down has been proven to increase the success of achieving the goals you set.
5. Tell someone you trust about your goals
This will make the goal more real and provide you with someone who can monitor your progress and whom you can be accountable to.
Always remember: saving can often be difficult to implement and commit to, but as soon as you attach a goal to it becomes less difficult and worthwhile!
This article was written by Karabo Manasoe.
You can contact Karabo Manasoe by clicking on the social media buttons below, or by emailing him on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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