Tips for setting Financial and Personal Goals

Author: Brian McNicol

Most people, if they have been exposed to any goal setting, would be familiar with the acronym SMART. S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. We will look at each of these in terms of goal setting but let’s look a little more broadly at goals.




One definition of goals by Peter Daniels is that Goals are the solidification of dreams, ideas, and ideals in practical form, for practical implementation for practical completion. Take time to dream, dream big. You may have individual goals for financial and personal goals but do they fit in with your life goals? Do you have life goals? Do you have the skills to achieve your life goals?

Identify your current skills and those that you may need to develop to achieve your goals.

There is a price for success so how far are you prepared to go to achieve your goals?

I first meet Mr. Peter Daniels, a South Australian Multi-millionaire property developer, back around 1980 and it was he that introduced me to the concept of life goals. Mr Daniels had his life goals set out until he was aged 80 and I expect that as he got a little older, he would have pushed his life goals out even further. I also learnt to use other people’s achievements to inspire yourself and to have the belief that you can do it. Mr Daniels had very little education, went bankrupt a number of times but set his life goals and worked with integrity and a belief that he could achieve his goals. One goal was to own a Rolls Royce and he achieved that goal, purchasing a new gold-colored Rolls Royce. Who inspires you with the goals that they set and the achievements that they have made?

Each of our goals whether it be financial, personal, travel, employment, health or whatever other goals you set should be part of the strategy for obtaining your life goals. Therefore each goal is ours individually. Being our goals, it is up to us individually to drive our goals and our desire for these goals will determine our success. Have you prioritised your goals as they are likely to compete for limited resources such as your time or money?


Each primary or major goal will have minor goals and achieving these minor or supportive goals is important as the foundation for achieving our major goals. Each minor goal that we achieve gets us a step closer to our major goal but also gives us the confidence to achieve our major goal.

For any major or long term goal, we should understand from the start that there will be obstacles or problems to overcome. We can save time and anguish by trying to identify any obstacles and then plan for these before we start our goal.  Remember, we can often achieve more by committing to less. As we achieve, our dreams and goals will expand.

It is also important that goals are written down. Writing goals down assure permanence stops your mind from playing games with your thoughts and allows you to start working on your goal. We can write down our goal using the acronym S.M.A.R.T.

Specific is the who, what, when and why. We need to identify who is involved, what is your goal, when you want to achieve it by and why that goal is important. Our goal needs to be clear and explicit as possible.

Measurable is important so that we can assess our progress towards our goal. Attainable as your skillset enables you to obtain benefits that are important to you. All financial goals need to be underpinned by non-financial benefits as well. You can or can’t achieve your goal by a specific deadline.

Realistic to achieve and something that you really want and within your ability to achieve is important. If your goals are unrealistic then you will give up on them when things get tough.

Time is important. Without setting a deadline, there is no urgency in achieving your goal. We all have a defined amount of time but we can always rearrange and improve how we use this time if our goals are important enough.

In summary, don’t forget to dream and dream big. Know your skills and develop certain skills that you may lack. Remember the acronym SMART and write your goals down in as much detail as possible. Ensure that your individual goals whether financial, health, employment, travel or other personal goals all work towards your life goals.

Keywords: Goal setting, individual goals, realistic, achievable goals, life goals, holistic approach


About author

Brian McNicol authors It’s My Time Book series published by Arthur Phillip Books Pty Ltd. Brian McNicol started his working life as an accountant, then as a self-employed financial planner and tax consultant before entering government for a six-week project which lasted 19 years. Brian followed his father into the accounting profession and was exposed to the stock market at an early age, purchasing shares in companies that his father worked for, or on recommendations from his father’s stockbroking advisers. Brian dabbled in the share market for many years building a portfolio of shares ranging from Blue Chip to Penny Dreadful. He has spoken at a number of large events but prefers talking to small groups or one-on-one with other investors. Brian has a wealth of experience and has made mistakes along the way. Ask him about negative gearing and interest rates of 18 percent. He has spoken at a number of large events but prefers talking to small groups or one-on-one with other investors.

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