Helping Clients Achieve Life Goals in the New Year

January often finds us in a goal setting mindset. The fresh start the new year provides and the tradition of creating resolutions urges us to reflect on past goals and think about future desires. This is a great time to help your clients assess (or reassess) their life goals.

In your roles of partner, guide, and educator, you can help your clients adopt a fresh perspective on goal setting and align their financial goals with their personal values and priorities. When meaningful goals are identified for each area of life, these objectives become the focal point of the financial planning process. Clients are much more likely to buy in, comply with, and feel enthusiasm for a financial plan that they see as directly related to their own lives and their unique sets of needs, circumstances, values, priorities, and aspirations.

Goal setting is an effective way of helping your clients picture what they want to achieve and what they want their lives to be like. You can then guide them toward those images in an intentional way. Clients will derive many benefits from having goals:

  • Goals provide a positive expectancy of the future and stimulate personal growth and development.
  • Goals help clients focus on the desired end result and provide the motivation they need to bounce back from setbacks.
  • Goals facilitate “future thinking,” a way of looking ahead and anticipating future needs, providing a framework for making decisions.
  • Goals that are clear and purposeful help clients to avoid getting sidetracked by someone else’s agenda.

Despite these benefits, many individuals are reluctant to set goals. Often it is because goal setting has been ineffective for them in the past. They miss their targets and become disappointed and discouraged. For others, setting goals creates internal stress by mentally switching an idea or a dream from the “want to” category, to the “have to” category. They then begin to feel pressure to perform and experience fear of failure.

As a Financial Life Planner, you have the opportunity to help your clients understand how their money is integrated into all areas of their lives. Once clients have articulated their life goals, they should be challenged to think about what role money can or will play in helping them to achieve each goal. For example, how will having sufficient financial resources give them more options for realizing their goals? Will economic security give them more time to focus their attention on what is most important to them?

In most cases, direct lines can be drawn between each goal and its financial cost. Many individuals express greater financial satisfaction when they understand the direct link between their financial planning activities and their life goals. Clients are likely to be more motivated to make improvements in their money matters when they view their financial resources as tools to support their personal values and priorities. Clients should also be encouraged to think about the investment of time and energy that will be required to achieve their goals.

Unless an individual’s goals are personally meaningful, he or she will be unlikely to make the investment required. When a person sets goals that are very meaningful, he or she experiences a sense of purpose. The individual will feel zeal for the tasks ahead and have positive expectations for what he or she intends to accomplish. If you, as a Financial Life Planner, can facilitate a meaningful and personal goal setting process, your clients will be intrinsically motivated to remain with you and to follow the financial advice you offer.

Editor’s Note: The Money Quotient suite of materials offers a complete series of goal setting tools. The Goals Tools are available to Licensing Levels 3 and 4. For information about becoming an M.Q. Licensee, please email

1 comment to Helping Clients Achieve Life Goals in the New Year

  • Sally C Hass

    YES TO GOALS! If your clients are game encourage them to come up with some visual depiction of their goal and to put it where they can see it often. Encourage them to celebrate the small wins along the way. There is a great book written by Charles Duhigg called the Power of Habit. It breaks down how our brain works in the formation of a new habit and provides insight into some of the tricks. Often one small win is enough to get someone on the right track.
    Wishing you all the best
    Sally Hass