In today’s complex and ever-changing world, a secure financial future is not attainable without careful planning for a specific outcome.
Using best practices for the journey and attaining your financial goals will not occur — unless you possess a winning lottery ticket, which is certainly not a good strategy.
Additionally, both personal and professional financial well-being has become increasingly dependent on our ability to connect, communicate, and collaborate effectively.
With these things in mind, a look in 2023’s rearview mirror is helpful in identifying strategies and approaches that have worked well, and these will continue to do so in this coming year.
Here are five lessons learned in 2023 that will enhance your financial health as you plan for your future.
Set measurable financial goals
Goals give direction to your financial journey, helping you focus on what’s important. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) financial goals. This could be saving a certain amount by year-end, investing in specific assets, or reducing debts.
Regularly review and adjust these goals as needed. And tie these goals to your “why” – what will these financial goals help you to do? To what lifestyle or opportunities do you aspire?
Financial planning needs to be connected to the larger goal and aligned with your values, so that you are inspired to continue building, even when times get tough.
Cultivate a robust advisory team
You are no doubt an expert at what you do. However, unless you also possess formal education and expertise as a wealth advisor, estate planning attorney, and certified professional accountant all rolled into one, you need a team comprised of these experts. This allows you to continue doing what you do best, as these professionals work apply their acumen to support you in your goals.
Many of us have in our circle someone who thought they could do it alone, ending up in financial disaster.
A case in point was when a business owner having toiled and sacrificed for more than 20 years to develop something she could leave her children, left nothing. Why? She was a do-it-yourselfer who did her own taxes, financial and estate planning.
When she passed away, her children found they had to sell the business to pay for the taxes, and so much more. Don’t let that be you.
The landscape is constantly evolving. Staying informed and adaptable is crucial for making sound decisions not only for your finances, but for all other aspects of your life.
Dedicate time each week to keep up with trends and developments in the world that can affect your goals and future. This continual learning will help you to ask better questions of your financial team and to recognize new opportunities. Frankly, it will also keep you more relevant, more interesting, and younger in spirit!
Mend your fences
I have heard so many sad stories of families intending (or not!) to repair relationships “someday.”
If your ideal future is riddled with stress and loss due to a family rupture, repair it now. One of my friends has a child from whom he is estranged.
Even though this friend has reached his financial goals and appears to be enjoying a beautiful life with his wife, they are full of sorrow because of the loss of their relationship.
Moreover, how they have more recently made financial decisions about their future has shifted drastically because they are not courageous enough to reach out and seek to bridge this conflict.
In some cases where it is harmful or destructive, keeping strong fences up is important. But in others, wherever, possible, having courageous and vulnerable conversations to repair the rupture makes future life so much more rewarding. If you are someone who longs to reconcile and you aren’t sure how to go about it, seek help.
Enhance communication skills
Effective communication is key in contracting and negotiations, whether for salaries, business deals, or investments.
You recently read a series of articles about how to work with contracted workers and avoid pitfalls. If you find it challenging to communicate well, invest in communication workshops or coaching.
Practice active listening, assertiveness, and clarity in your daily interactions. Before any negotiation, prepare thoroughly, know your needs, understand the other party’s needs, and work to set clear expectations and a win-win outcome together.
The integration of interpersonal skills, communication, and relationship-building with financial acumen is more important than ever in 2024. By integrating these lessons learned from the past year, you can enhance your financial health and pave the way for both personal and professional success. Remember, the journey to financial well-being is continuous and requires a comprehensive approach encompassing both soft skills and financial strategies.
Patti Cotton serves as a thought partner to CEOs and their teams to help manage complexity and change. You can reach her via email at Patti@PattiCotton.com.
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