Sometimes when I ask people, “What are your financial goals?” they say things like: “Other than having enough one day to retire on, I’m not sure I have any clear financial goals.” After a pause they add, “That’s not a very good answer, is it?”
That’s usually when I say, “Maybe if I asked better questions you’d have better answers.”
And so I ask them about all sorts of things.
About family. What’s your next big family milestone? Having a baby? Sending kids to college? Becoming grandparents? What possessions, opportunities, abilities, or spiritual/emotional blessings do you want your family to have? If you were suddenly removed from their lives, what would your family miss most? If your aging parents became ill, would care for them fall on your shoulders? Who would care for you if you became incapacitated for an extended period of time?
About work. What do you do? Do you enjoy your workplace and co-workers? Are you compensated fairly? Does your job offer you opportunities to grow, advance, and earn more? Is there another job/career you dream about? Are you moving in that direction, or do you think, “I could never do that”? If money were no object, what would you do for a living? Is there any possible way for you to do that?
About lifestyle. Do you like where you live, or wish you lived somewhere else? Is your lifestyle peaceful or chaotic? If chaotic, what would you like to change? What would that take? Are you living within your means, above your means, or beneath your means?
About pain. What hurts are in your life? What do you worry about? Is it possible for this situation to change? What painful thing in your life would you most like to eliminate? What’s an area of your life in which you’d like to make progress over the next year?
About passions. What do you daydream about? What do you love to do? Is there something you enjoy doing that other people affirm you for? How do you spend your time when you’re not working? What activities are especially meaningful to you? Is there a cause or institution you care deeply about? What would you most like to accomplish with the rest of your life? How would you like to be remembered?
About happiness. What makes you smile (first thing that comes to mind!)? If you won $10,000,000 in the lottery…then what? Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in your life?
I know. I know. That’s a lot of questions. The idea isn’t to sit down and answer each one as quickly as possible. This isn’t a competition. Nor is there a time limit on how long to ponder each question. I just know that if you wrestle with these questions, it’ll help you in every area of life—including your finances.
If you’re married, consider discussing these questions with your mate. It’ll make for an interesting date night, I promise!
The point? When you ask better questions, it’s possible to get better, clearer answers.
And while we’re on this subject of “good questions”….Just in time for 2021, I’ve written a short e-book The Three Financial Questions You Should Be Asking for 2021. If you’ll email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll send you a free copy.
Wishing you had better answers?
Start asking better questions.
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