Plans Work!

October 29, 2018

One of the most gratifying things about being an advisor for as long as I have is that you get to see your clients’ financial goals come to fruition. It is fulfilling to see clients meet their education goals, buy their first house or complete a major renovation without unmanageable debt. My greatest satisfaction however, is seeing clients achieve their retirement objectives. Living the lifestyle they had hoped for with peace of mind that their financial needs are being met.

How were these clients able to succeed?

Planning! There is a great amount of truth in the old saying that ‘those that fail to plan, plan to fail’. Planning and setting goals works when done correctly.

A study completed by Psychology Professor Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University of California* focused on strategies for achieving goals. Participants were randomly assigned to five groups with the following differences:

  • Group 1 – Unwritten Goal.
  • Group 2 – Written Goal
  • Group 3 – Written Goal & Action Commitments
  • Group 4 – Written Goal, Action Commitments to a Friend
  • Group 5 – Written Goal, Action Commitments & Progress Report to a Friend

At the end of the study, only 43% of Group 1 had met their goals or were at least half way there. 62% of Group 4 did the same, while 76% of Group 5 participants accomplished their goals or were at least half way there. All groups that wrote their goals down did better than the group that didn’t.

Why were Group 5 participants the most successful? Dr. Matthews feels that her study provides evidence for the effectiveness of accountability, action commitments, and writing down one’s goals. There is some interesting science that supports why being specific, writing your goals down and reviewing them on a regular basis helps you to more readily achieve your goals. Not to make it too simplistic but what the mind sees, the mind believes. It is said that by engaging both your ‘goal setting mind’, (the rational conscious mind), and the unconscious mind, which stores your emotions/beliefs/feelings, you increase your chances of success.

So, how do you increase your chances of success?

  • Set specific goals and be precise about what you want.
  • Write your goals down and review them on a regular basis. Engage all your senses by repeating your goals aloud, visualizing and imagining what achieving your goals would feel like.
  • Set a thorough course of action and take steps that will get you closer to your goals.
  • Review them regularly and make yourself accountable to someone who can help you along.

Planning works! By taking the time to define and write down specific financial goals and create a plan of action that you will regularly review, you have taken what I believe are the most important steps to achieving your financial success. Meeting regularly with your financial advisor to review your objectives and create that accountability will help increase the odds that your goals will be met.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

Val Cattelan

Cattelan Private Wealth Counsel Team


* Dominican University Research Study