There are likely dozens of items on your lifelong wish list. However, while you might be able to have anything your heart desires, you can’t have everything. And no matter what you’re yearning for, chances are there’s a financial component to achieving your dream.

Financial goal setting will help hone in on those things that are most important to you; planning will establish the road map to get you there.

“Goal setting isn’t simply a matter of thinking about everything you’d like to have,” says Delores Moskal, a Certified Financial Planner® professional in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. “It takes time and forethought.”

Many people simply make a wish list in their head, but they often don’t make it past the dreaming stage. Achieving your goals means taking these five steps, says Delores:

  1. Put pen to paper: Research has shown that the simple act of committing your goals to paper makes them tangible and increases your likelihood of achieving them.
  2. Share your inspiration: Who will you fulfill your dreams with? Perhaps they have a different vision than yours. Be sure to share with others who may be impacted by your decisions so you’re on the same page.
  3. Guard your peripheral vision: Be mindful of outside influences steering you off course. Family asking to borrow money, marketers trying to sell you a now-or-never trip, or friends suggesting a new home or car can make you lose sight of your real goals.
  4. Think SMART: You may be familiar with this concept in your working life, but the same advice applies to your personal goals. Ensure your goals are:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Realistic, and
    • Timely
    Instead of dreaming of ‘owning a vacation property’, think SMART! Finesse that goal into ‘within the next five years, purchase a winterized vacation property with an ocean view in Nova Scotia, which will eventually become our home in retirement.’
  5. Get help: A CFP® professional can help you reach your financial goals all through your life, helping put the financial building blocks in place to you get where you want to go, preparing you for the unexpected, and even helping you plan your legacy.

Once you have a financial plan in place, you’ll feel your stress decrease as you stop trying to do it all yourself—while possibly achieving very little. And a professional financial plan will allow you to enjoy life in the present (with the money you have) while you address yesterday (perhaps paying down debt), and look forward to tomorrow (setting goals and saving for the future).

“Working with a professional financial planner is like having a coach to help keep you on track and accountable,” says Delores. “And with that comes the satisfaction of reaching the goals you’ve always dreamed of.”

To find a Certified Financial Planner professional in your area to help guide your financial future, use our Find Your Planner tool.

For more on achieving your financial goals, read Live your bucket list: 8 ways to turn goals into reality, 6 ways to balance your financial priorities and To realize your dreams faster, act now.