Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Is "Gazillion" Your Number?

A very smart financial services firm has a commercial that contrasts two neighbor's approaches to financial planning. One of them has calculated his "number" to the penny- while the other one has a target of "gazillion".  Of course, the number is the elusive "how much money do I need to...".

What's the difference between the two? They live in nice houses next to each other, seem to have similar lifestyles- but somehow, we know that one will be more successful than the other.  One of them has chosen his future and is working purposefully towards it, while the other is leaving it up to chance.

I've been working with lawyers and other entrepreneurs for about 8 years now.  Before that, I was a highly compensated, ladder-climbing workaholic.  When I first started coaching, I was shy about focusing on the money.  I was tired of all the stupid things people do in the corporate world because of money. I was all about loving your life, balance, and so on.

Over time, I see that my clients who have specific financial goals and track and focus on them are the ones who build businesses that allow them to continue to work for themselves and pay for their kids' educations, the trips to Galapagos that they've dreamed of, and handle emergencies that arise. It is a very good thing indeed to have a plan for your future that you bring to your present. If your aim is to support yourself and your family with your law practice or small business, then you need to have a financial goal.

Some of you carry a lot of "stuff" around money. You know what? Get over it. You're wasting time. Pick a number.  More about that another time. This post is for folks who haven't bought into the idea of monthly and annual financial goals.  Whatever the number is, just name it. Start with the minimum amount you need to clear to cover your expenses, if you're reluctant to be aspirational.  The absolute value of the number isn't so important when you start to set goals.  What matters is that you choose it with the intention of meeting it and that you track your results to it. As soon as you do that, your financials will improve. I promise.

So, pick a number. Start with ten grand a month.  If you're there, double it.  If ten's too scary, start with five. If you still feel anxious- well, that's something you have to notice and move on. There's no hidden trapdoor. No crowd of people waiting to make fun of you for setting a "crazy" goal. If you don't meet the goal, you get to keep working and try something more or different so that you meet it next month.

Maybe your secret number is a crazy goal. Maybe you can't meet it. Doesn't matter. First, you have to get serious. Plan and action, geared towards meeting your goal. Making your number. If you prove you can't make the money you need to make to have the life you want, the sooner you know that, the better. Then, Plan B. But that's just reality, don't let it rattle you. Better to deal with reality than be stuck with no options. Really.

Go for it. Pick a number. Start tracking it. You'll be more successful.