Why it’s important to know what you want

Many people don’t know what they want. They either know what they don’t want, or they know what they have is not what they want. Few though have taken the time to really understand what they want. And fewer still have aligned what they want with what their spouse wants.

It can be difficult to work through the soul searching required to find out what you really want, but it is crucial to your success. It wasn’t until I undertook this exercise myself that I realized how critical knowing what you want is.

Knowing what you want drives your path towards success. That is why the better you can define it, the more detailed your plan to achieving the goal can be. Without that original guidance, it is impossible to know exactly where you want to be, and how to get there.

Imagine you’re placed on a boat in the middle of the ocean with another person. This person has a specific destination in mind which they’d like to reach, but they are unable to communicate that destination to you. What do you do? You may begin to head in a direction you think is right but before long you start to second guess yourself and turn back. Eventually you realize how many different destinations are possible and how impossible it would be to try to get to each one in the hopes that they were right. So you give up and float.

Extreme example? For sure, but we also see smaller examples in our everyday lives. Have you ever been in the car with your spouse on the way home after a long day and neither of you feel like cooking? If you’re anything like me your conversation might go something like this:

“Let’s pick something up. What do you want?”

“I don’t know what I feel like. Let’s go wherever you want.”

“I don’t know what I want either. That’s why I asked you”

“Well then let’s just do whatever.”

Eventually, like I do, you probably either end up at home cooking or stop at the closest place to grab something.  You likely regret your decision as soon as you leave the building because it wasn’t something you really wanted and now you’re out $30 to top it all off.

Without knowing what you want, you have no way to get to it. And even worse, every decision you make between now and when you figure out what you want could take you further away from your goal.

If you do already know what you want, it’s time to put a plan in place to achieve your goal.

How? To start with, ask yourself this question: could an outsider looking at your life figure out what you want by the choices you make?

For instance, if your goal is to retire early with a large nest egg, presumably you would live very simple: No fancy cars; very few high-end vacations; a modest home and lots of saving. If that was what you wanted and how your day-to-day life played out, it wouldn’t be hard for an outsider to see that the choices you make are in line with your end goal.

If your goal is still to retire early with a large nest egg and you buy a new flashy car every year, own a mansion in an upscale community and take extravagant vacations every six months, that conclusion wouldn’t be so easy to see. Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who makes a significant income and can both afford the high-end lifestyle and early retirement. For most of us though, these actions wouldn’t be meet up with the end goal.

Sometimes achieving what you want can require a drastic pivot in the lifestyle you’ve been living. If you wait to figure out what you want, you put yourself at risk that when you eventually do figure it out, you could be so far off course you can’t achieve it.

Take the time now to figure out what you want before it’s too late. You don’t want to end up floating the middle of an ocean with no course to follow. Once you have you won’t regret it, and you can begin to chart your path to achieving better.

Wade Bedard, CIM®

HollisWealth, a Division of Industrial Alliance Securities Inc.

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