Today we’ll step away from the numbers and figures and logical planning for a moment and instead focus on a fun step towards financial independence: visualizing your dreams. This step is the ultimate step to all of the following:
- keeping up your motivation
- setting goals
- not forgetting to live in the “now”
We’ve discussed the first two points in detail in several of the previous steps, but the third one we haven’t yet looked at so much. Let’s discuss the importance of that third point through an example: imagine a couple who gets really inspired to become financially independent. They make a budget, cut expenses, start a side hustle to earn some more money to invest and they see their efforts paying off as their bank account increases. So they hustle a little more, cut another few expenses and speed up the process. But with time they become so absorbed by this process that other things are being cut too. Even though they have a fair amount of money, family holidays are “too expensive”, clothes are recycled well past their “best before” date (which makes the children an easy target to laugh at at school) and any real family time is disappearing quickly as the side hustle takes up any valuable time the family might have had together. After many years of dedication and hard work their bank account finally reaches that milestone of $1,000,000 that they had set themselves. The couple gets ready to celebrate this moment and loosen the reins a little – not wanting to retire completely but at least to work less – only to find that their children have gone off to college, friends from the past are have ceased to be friends as they have hardly seen each other in recent years as the couple had either no time or no money to attend get-togethers. They are not longer members of their sport clubs and realize they don’t know that many people anymore. There are no photo albums on the shelves with photos of happy family holidays, no memories of fun days down at the beach or up in the mountains at the weekends and they can’t really remember having taken the children on any visits to the theatre, a museum or even the cinema. The couple never had time for fun activities and only ever thought of making money and then some more.
And what for? What is the point of having $1,000,000 in your bank account if you can’t enjoy it? What is the value of money if not to use it and enjoy the little things in life? Spending time with the people we love? More than those $1,000,000 isn’t it important to have time to do what you want to do and to make a difference in the world?
Making money or becoming financially independent are great goals to set, but remember they are only a means to an end. Whatever net worth you want to get to, always remind yourself of why you want to achieve this.
Visualize your dreams
So now for the more uplifting part of this step: visualizing your dreams, and specifically: creating a vision or dream board.
Whereas in several earlier steps we’ve written down goals, targets, plans of action and time lines, a vision board is a lot simpler but also more powerful. A vision board is a visual representation of your goals: a big poster or photo collage. Usually made up of photos, pictures and drawings with some quotes or short statements, they represent the key goals you are working towards.
It can be used in many different ways, but they have an enormous potential to achieve those three key parts on our mission: setting goals, not losing your motivation, and remembering to plan for the future without forgetting to live now.
Place a vision board in a strategical place (let’s go back to the fridge, bathroom mirror or inside of your wardrobe door) and you are constantly reminded of your goals, your why’s and the reason for planning your financial life carefully.
Step 95 – Visualize your dreams – in detail
- Write down your top 6 or 8 or 10 goals for your financial life. We’re not looking for numbers here, but the ultimate targets you have. So for now we are not interested in the number you need to retire: it is not your goal to save up $500,000 that we need here. But your goal might be to retire early, and in order to do so you need $500,000. Or maybe you want to buy a condo in the mountains for holidays. Or you might want to get a boat, pay for your children’s college or donate $200,000 to a charity that you strongly identify with.
- Try and get a mix of short-term (i.e. goals you have set for the next 2 or so years) and long-term goals. In this way your vision board isn’t just all about “the distant future” and will have some immediate goals.
- Your goals shouldn’t just be materialistic goals, remember the example from above about the family who never stopped to enjoy life. Your goals can be retiring early to go hiking every weekend, reducing work hours to spend more time with your (grand)children or adopting a pet from the local shelter and giving it a second chance.
- On the internet or in magazines find one or two photos per goal that most represent your target. Be creative if needed and make sure that you can identify with the pictures and have a strong positive feeling about each one of them.
- Find or buy a big piece of paper and write “financial independence” or some other powerful sentence, word or quote in the middle or at the top.
- Stick your pictures up on the paper.
- If you want you can find a few powerful quotes or habits to complete your vision board.
- Take a moment to look at your goals and imagine achieving them one by one. Visualize how you feel each time and how you would enjoy the effects of having completed the goal.
- Stick your vision board somewhere where you’ll be able to look at it every day.
Now that you’ve got your very own vision or dream board, take a few minutes every day to look at it and appreciate your goals. Visualize completing your goals regularly and you’ll guaranteed feel inspired daily to keep up with your goals and to remember why you embarked on this mission.
Read more about my 100 steps mission to financial independence or simply decide to take control today and join us on our step-by-step quest on how to make your finances work for you, starting with step 1.