A common focus in the first month of a new year is to assess and evaluate our goals and priorities in life. One of many areas in life to be considered is how well we’re doing financially. In challenging economic times, this evaluation is even more critical. Are we on target to achieve our goals? Do we need to set new goals or adjust our goals? Are we succeeding financially? This leads to another critical question, “How do you define success?”
Do you know what success will look like when you get there? Does success for you involve a particular position? Does it involve accumulating a certain level of material possessions? If so, how much is enough?
Success for each person is based on their personal values and goals. Those things that are important to you will determine your success. Often, the tensions we feel in life come from an inner conflict between our values and how we spend our money.
Money itself has no intrinsic value. It is only a medium of exchange. It can be used to help you reach your goals in life. Many people never get in touch with this reality. Without a proper focus on money, you can experience many negative emotions such as anxiety, worry, guilt and fear. To gain a proper perspective on money, you must view it as a tool. If you’re given a tool, you have to know what to do with it—what task or what goal you’re trying to accomplish—or the tool is useless.
As you set financial goals, realize that every person earns a certain amount of money over a lifetime. The process of meeting short-term and long-term goals is a matter of allocation. Every dollar spent involves a choice between alternatives. You can never spend that dollar again.
So many things will affect how well we reach our financial goals. As we strive to meet those goals, remember that financial success will be different for everyone. The thing that makes it different is our values and priorities. Once we identify those values and priorities, we can achieve financial success by focusing our financial planning and spending on these. Hindsight will confirm whether you have reached your own personal definition of financial success.
Don Spencer is the church financial benefits consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.