Let me take you on a little trip to Dalston.
Last weekend I met up with some friends at a newly opened café in Dalston. It’s the kind of cafe you’d expect in Dalston – so underground it’s not even signposted, a gig-venue come café come art-gallery, with a menu hosting ‘<insert hipster café name> fruitcakes’, which really just means blueberry pancakes. All the complex frills required to claim its place in the Dalston Directory of Hipster Approved Cafés.
Now to the setting. All accounted and seated we began our pre-coffee ramblings – And in typical Antipodean fashion there’s no time for niceties, we’re straight into the deep and meaningfuls, quick.
We discussed an array of things (some things my pre-coffee self just couldn’t compute) – I’m not one for Brexit in the morning, but one thing that did spark up my brain was the subject of savings (my geekish self rejoiced).
By fruitcakes-time we all collectively agreed we needed to get better at savings, but when asked why? No one had a clear answer. “It’s something we should be doing” seemed to be the general consensus.
Within this response lied the problem, you see by not knowing our ‘why’, we’d already set ourselves up to fail.
Why the Why?
Savings in itself is pointless if you don’t know why you’re saving in the first place. It’s like driving along a highway without an end destination in mind. Do this and you’ll very quickly find yourself off-course, without gas, and allured by other the attractions along the way – such as <insert hipster café here>.
Savings is not the why, eventually you’ll need to spend your money and that’s a good thing! The why is what your money will give you in return, that aligns to your own goals and values.
So to solve this problem of the millennial fruitcake “should be’s”, let’s look at how you define this thing we call why.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Investigate yourself
- Before you can begin to define your why you first need to investigate yourself. It might sound a little strange, but by doing this and asking yourself these questions you’ll create a clear picture of who you really are and what your ideal future looks like. Get a pen and paper and write down your answers…
- What do I want my life to look like in the future?
- What do I enjoy, I mean really enjoy?
- When do I feel most myself and happiest?
- What kinds of people do I want to be around?
- What are my core values and how do I want to live according to these?
- What do I want my professional life to look like?
- What do I want to learn?
2. Define your core goals
- Now that you’ve written down your answers, it’s time to identify the patterns within them to define your core goals
- Examples are if you wrote you want to experience new places, learn a new language, and get enjoyment out of travel then your goal might be to go travelling in 1 years’ time
- Or, if you wrote you want to be around family more often, value your freedom, and want more time for hobbies your goal might be to work more flexible or go part-time.
Identifying these patterns will give you your goals.
- It’s important at this point to put a reality check in place
- We only have so much time on this earth and to have goals are great, but if you set too many goals you’re unlikely to make progress
- You need to prioritise what is most important to you
- Analyse what you’ve written down and select your TOP 3 GOALS
- These are the 3 ‘whys’ you’ll begin with, to plan to shape your future
4. Plan and save
- Now that you’ve identified your top 3 goals (aka your whys), you can put a plan in place to reach them
- Give yourself a realistic timeline for each goal and build in the pitstops (small saving milestones) to get you there along the way
- Ask yourself “does this decision align with my long-term goal?”, by doing this regularly you’ll stay on the highway.
Remember no one else is going to drive to your goals for you. But it’s you that has the control of the wheel. You define your whys. No one else.