“If I’m generally moving in the right direction, my financial goals will take care of themselves.” Are you guilty of this financial planning misconception?

Coasting—even in the right direction—doesn’t necessarily mean being on track, says Delores Moskal, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional based in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.

Delores says that not having specific goals is like driving at night without headlights. “You kind of know the road and can steer your vehicle in the right direction, but you’re never really sure.”

“You’re moving along, but you might get to the end of the road and find out you’re at the wrong destination,” she says, “whether that means you can’t buy your dream house, fund your children’s education or rely on your retirement income.”

Try Delores’ tips to stop coasting and start accelerating toward your financial goals today.

  1. Target your destination: Many people put off setting specific goals, intimidated that the next step—actually having to start working toward them—might be difficult or stressful. It can seem easier to trust that everything is progressing fine without your attention. But don’t fall victim to this fear-based procrastination: make your goals inspiring enough that you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
  2. Use a GPS: Have an honest talk with yourself. Are you doing the best that you can with what you have? If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, consider getting the help of an expert. A qualified financial planner can help you devise a road map to your goals, immediately putting you in a better position to reach them and keeping you on course as you make progress.
  3. Chart your current location: To get where you want to go, you need to take an accurate snapshot of where you are right now. A financial planner can help you take into account all relevant areas across your financial life.
  4. Know your end point: One of the benefits of planning is that you can choose your ideal outcome, rather than seeing what happens automatically (or settling for the only option left). Be detailed in your goal setting and consult with your family to be sure you’re all on the same page.
  5. Pick up speed: There’s no time like the present to start to design your financial future and make progress toward your goals. The sooner you start, the sooner your dreams can become a reality.

It may seem intimidating or time-consuming to put a targeted focus on your financial goals. But when the real danger of coasting is that you might not reach your dreams at all, isn’t it worth putting in the time and getting the help you need?

If you need a qualified professional to help you kick your financial goals into high gear, FPSC’s Find a Planner or Certificant tool can put you in touch with someone in your area. Learn the facts about other Misconceptions about Financial Planning and Myths about financial planning.