Setting your goals is also about discovering possibilities. You can turn your daily cup of coffee into $70,000.

But first, you need to decide what you want from your money. Brad Fox, CEO of the AFA, explains the possibilities in part 1 while Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon tells you how to decide your goals in parts 2 and 3.

Have people been telling you for as long as you can remember that you need to set goals? Your parents might have been among the first and your teachers were almost certainly next. There was probably a sports coach or two, then you finally entered the workforce and your boss – or better still, an outside consultant – ran sessions on goal-setting. They probably said they had to be S.M.A.R.T. goals too if they were to be effective: Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Time-bound. Then they said they would review them with you. Of course, in many cases that did not happen and the goals became meaningless.

All of these important people in your life meant well and no doubt were passing on the lessons they had been taught: “If you don’t have a goal, how can you achieve it?”
It’s a fair point, but a vital step is missing. How do you know what’s achievable? Who helped you imagine a whole world of possibilities before trying to lock you down to choices that were obvious, probably too easy (because you didn’t want to fail) and like everyone else’s goals?

Most people tackle goal-setting in a way that excludes a lot of possibilities due to the way our society (and family) has conditioned us. Australia hasn’t been a society that celebrates dreamers, inventors or entrepreneurs, but maybe that’s starting to change as we go through a digital revolution.

So what about you and your long-term dreams? Has anyone ever spent time with you to explore your own possibilities? It is an incredibly difficult task to be fully honest with yourself, and your partner, to explore your hopes and dreams in a meaningful way. In my experience, it nearly always takes a trusted third person to peel back the layers to help reveal the real drivers and motivations that sit inside us. Friends sometimes fulfil this role, but what they usually aren’t so good at is then putting you on the pathway to achieving the possibilities – or keeping you there.

One aspect to consider is how to fund the possibilities you imagine. Simply, can you afford to do that? “That” could be taking a year off work to study, the trip of a lifetime, reducing your working hours or moving to a job with less pay (and fewer pressures). Or maybe it’s to build an investment portfolio that “only rich people have” and that you always thought was out of reach. Maybe it’s to help your children enter the housing market.

Financial advisers do this for a living. They can take you through a journey of discovering what might be achievable for you, and I don’t just mean financially. Depending on their style, they often start from helping people define what matters most to themselves, even discovering their “why” or driving motivation in life. They help people verbalise their ambitions and dreams, then help to show them the possibilities to create outcomes beyond what they imagined were achievable. Great financial advice doesn’t limit you. But it often unshackles you to achieve things that would never have been a S.M.A.R.T. goal, because you didn’t know they were possible.