If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.
These are more than trite phrases; they contain a great truth.
Picture in your mind a runner getting set to compete against other runners in a 100-yard dash. As the gun sounds, all the runners but one sprint toward the tape. The one runner looks around to see where the finish line is before he leaves the starting blocks. By the time he sees the tape, the race is over.
You’ll never see that happen. No runner would get in the starting blocks without knowing beforehand where the finish line is. However, many of us run our lives – financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally – without having any finish lines in mind. We don’t know where we are headed; therefore any road will get us there. Not only that, but unless we know where we are going, we will never know when we have arrived, so we keep running forever.
Yet in my experience in working with Christians regarding their finances very few have written financial goals. Not having financial goals is the same thing as aiming at nothing.
Most people don’t set goals because they are afraid of failure, or they believe it takes too much time, or they do not know how, or they do not know what goals to set.
A goal is simply a measurable objective toward which you believe God wants you to move. Because it is measurable, you will always know whether it has been accomplished or not. However, a goal is also dynamic; that is, it will change over time because of changing circumstances, desires, etc. Even so, if a goal is not measurable in terms of time period, amount, date, or some other standard, it is not a goal but simply a purpose statement.
You can formulate goals in light of eternity only after spending consistent daily time with God for He has promised in Hebrews 11:1 that faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen.
I can think of five good reasons why you should set financial goals.
First, setting a financial goal will help you focus your thoughts, impressions, and experiences in such a way that you almost automatically begin working toward the accomplishment of that goal. For instance, when you set a goal to take a particular kind of vacation at a particular location, your energies begin to be focused toward the accomplishment of that goal. The same is true with a financial goal. The mere process of setting a financial goal will enable you to move toward that goal. So, goals provide personal motivation.
Second, when you set a goal and achieve it, you experience a tremendous sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Accomplishing the same thing without having set it as a goal always leaves doubt as to whether it was the right accomplishment or not. If you have ever purchased a home, you know the satisfaction that comes from having defined what was important to you in a new home and then finding it. Not defining what you’re attempting to find in a new home will always leave you wondering whether you are in the right home or not. The same is true with a financial goal. Setting a financial goal and then accomplishing it provides a sense of satisfaction and reward.
Third, because goals are future-oriented, they make an implicit statement of God’s will for your life. Because a goal is specific, we move toward it rather than to all the other alternatives available to us. Each time you set a goal, you are in effect saying that is what God wants you to do regarding this particular use of His financial resources. In the financial area of your life, only a few goals need to be set.
Fourth, for married couples, goals provide a strong basis of communication. If goals are ill-defined, it’s difficult for two people to discuss them. If as a couple you commit to determining jointly where you are heading and then writing those goals down, you have already taken the first step towards eliminating potential conflict and controversy. For instance, would you ever dream of going on a vacation without determining beforehand your destination? Probably not! The husband may be headed for the beach; then when it is the wife’s turn to drive, she may turn around and head for the mountains. The obvious result: a substantial amount of conflict! While you’d never think of doing that, many couples do just that when it comes to their finances.
The fifth reason for setting goals is that they are road signs marking progress toward the accomplishment of larger purposes. For example, one may want to be a good father. That in itself is not easily defined. However, a goal of spending 15 minutes with each child each day provides a measurement of accomplishment toward the larger purpose of being a good father.
You should have a giving goal, a debt repayment goal, a savings goal, and a lifestyle goal. There are no “correct” set percentages or dollar amounts on these, with the exemption of giving, which I believe as a minimum should be a tithe amount of 10% of gross income. My challenge to you is to set a goal in each area now, and then through prayer give God the opportunity to refine that goal more specifically as time goes on. If God has given you that goal, then it is His responsibility to accomplish it, and it is your responsibility to remain faithful to move toward it as He provides the resources to do so.
Rob West is the Training and Communications Director for Kingdom Advisors, a non-profit Life that exists to equip and disciple Christian financial advisors to integrate their faith and profession. Please send questions and comments to [email protected].
The information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. You should not rely on any information in this article to make (or refrain from making) any decision or take
(or refrain from taking) any action.