Wrapping Up Your Year Effectively

Wrapping Up Your Year EffectivelyIt’s that time of year when many of us reflect on the year gone by. As we get older, I think we all feel like the years pass a little more quickly than they once did! This is probably because we get caught up in the daily grind—most of us are busy doing things that don’t serve our greater goals.

As a financial advisor, many people assume that my sole focus is on investing and growing my clients’ portfolios. That is a very important part of what I do, but it’s only one of the various aspects of what my practice focuses on! I’ve learned through experience and research that money alone doesn’t make people happy. That’s why my practice also focuses on helping clients direct their hard-earned funds towards the things that add value and happiness to their lives.

When I was much younger, my friends and I used to half-jokingly believe that “he with the most toys wins.” Well, they do win… but only in the game of collecting toys! There are very few people on the planet that get true value and fulfillment solely from acquiring money and things. If this topic interests you, here is a great Ted Talk on how to buy happiness.

When looking back at your year, you may want to consider all areas of your life, not just the financial aspects. For most of us, a fulfilling life includes many things: our careers, finances, personal goals, friendships, relationships, health and fitness, passions and, of course, overall happiness.

Here are a few suggestions to help you finish the year right and make sure 2014 gets off to the best start possible!

Evaluate your progress

Look back on the year you just had and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Did you achieve your short-term goals?
  • Are you doing the things you need to do so you can achieve your medium- and long-term goals?

If you answered yes, good for you. If not, why not? Is not meeting your goals a trend that has carried over from past years?

Re-evaluate your goals

A new year is a good time to take a fresh look at your goals and re-evaluate them. Here’s how:

  • Figure out what is important to you and your family. Make sure you have a really clear idea of what matters.
  • Make sure your goals are congruent with what you consider important. From a financial point of view, this could mean saving for retirement, big trips or your children’s education, or completing your will and POA.
  • If you find that you have a goal that doesn’t fit with what’s important to you, remove it! Hint: Trying to acquire “stuff” just to keep up with the Joneses is almost always a bad idea.

Make a plan, and make it bullet-proof

It’s great to have big goals, but they need to be achievable! If you have only a 1% chance of achieving a certain goal, it may not be the right one. With a little hard work, you should have about a 50/50 chance of achieving your goal, so create a bullet-proof strategy. Hint: You may not want to use the same plan that has consistently failed in the past.

It may be helpful to keep in mind this great quote from Bill Gates: “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

Get organized

If you’re not organized, things will fall through the cracks. Have a method for tracking everything—or have someone who does it for you! Bill Gatesmeasures everything in his foundation to ensure success... you should, too.

Get leverage on yourself

Try these tips to stay accountable:

  • Keep your goals in front of you. Don’t just write them down once and forget about them until next December.
  • Write out a cheque to your “anti-charity,” and mail it out if you don’t achieve your goal. This recently helped me get below my grade 13 weight!
  • Have someone else you’re accountable to.
  • Reward yourself for your accomplishments.

Final thoughts

At the beginning of MMA star Georges St-Pierre’s book The Way of the Fight (I’ve read it twice), he tells the reader that if they take only one thing from his book it should be this: “Pick a goal, make a realistic plan to reach that goal, work through each step of the plan and repeat.” I’ve always believed in this concept, and I try to help my clients achieve what is most important to their families from a financial perspective.

Even if you’ve never set goals, or you have in the past but they didn’t work out, consider some of these tips for 2014. As Bill Gates says, you’ll be shocked where you’ll be in ten short years!

Happy Holidays!!