Gordon Botting, Stewardship Director, Pacific Union Conference

Introduction. Before the recent conflict in Iraq, the Homeland Security Department in America warned citizens to begin planning for terrorist attacks. Some security advisers talked about the importance of having rolls of plastic sheeting and ?duck? tape for the windows in homes, in case of biological weapons of mass destruction. Whether that was the best way to combat air-born terrorism or not, we do know that before a natural disaster happens anywhere, each family needs to have a contingency plan in place. If it is important to plan for a natural disaster that may happen once in a decade, how much more careful plan-ning should go into money management which effects our families on a daily basis?

Failing to set goals. ?An aimless life is a living death.?—Testimonies, v. 4, p. 417

Why do people fail to set goals? People fail to set goals because they often:

(1) Don’t know where to start. They fear they might fail once they start, and they are not persuaded of the need to have goals. (2) Don’t know how to accomplish a goal. (3) Don’t believe they have the ability or knowledge to develop a goal. They fail to make the emotional commitment to complete the project and do not give themselves adequate time to reach the goal

1. Plans must be identified. ?Great power comes from having a clearly identified list on lifetime goals.?Alan Lake, time-management consultant. Without a plan, you will always be wondering if your action was correct. Actually it’s easier to reach goals than to set them. A goal properly set is partially reached because it is a strong statement of your belief. Someone has said, ?When you find what you are interested in, what you are interested in will find you.? Once you identify your interests, it will be exciting to see the number of opportunities that will present themselves in that particular area of interest.

How to find that goal. Take a few index cards and write headings such as health, marriage, profession, and spiritual life. Then over the next few weeks add items to each card or ideas that come to your mind on each of these subjects.

Ask yourself these kinds of questions: How would I like to spend the next five years? Not how would I, or how should I, but how would I like to. Design a perfect day for yourself five years from now.

2. Plans must be big. ?Make no small plans for they have no capacity to stir men’s souls.?—Unknown

You must have big plans that stir the imagination and create excitement. Medioc-rity has no room in a personal plan. Have you ever had a big dream? Something you really wanted to accomplish? Like a mountain, it stood before you beckoning you to conquer it. It was something you dreamed and thought about often. You could smell it, taste it, and feel it. Remember Caleb? For 45 years he carried his dream—38 years in the wilderness through all kinds of disease and heartache, and then seven more years warring in the Promised Land. Now hear him say to Joshua, ?We don’t need to cast lots for me. Forty-five years ago, if you recall, Moses promised me this land. God told him that I could have it. Joshua, ?Give me this mountain!’? [Joshua 14:10-12.]

3. Plans must be specific. ?This one thing I do. Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the goal.?—Philippians 3: 13-14. RSV

Make your plan focus in a certain direction. Think of it like holding a magnifying glass over a pile of old newspapers. If you keep moving, the power of the magnified sun will not start a fire, but if you focus it, you will light a flame. The quest for success always begins with a specific target. Move from a general statement, like: ?My goal is to be a better money manager,? to a specific statement: ?My goal is to save ten percent of my gross income.?

4. Plans must be realistic. Goals must represent a reasonable level toward which you are able and willing to work. Part of being realistic is to acknowledge the obstacles you must overcome to reach your goal. List those items that may cause problems.

Be specific and honest. For example, look at a problem like a mountain before you. You have at least three choices.

You can either go over the mountain, around it, or tunnel through it. Remember, obstacles are opportunities to allow you to use that computer God created between your two ears to find an innovative solution.

5. Plans must involve others. Think of individuals or institutions that will provide help for you to reach your plans. List those who can help you, either with information or support. List skills or?know-how? you need to obtain your goal. This could be an evening college course or a seminar you need to attend.

6. Plans must be systematic.?Planning is like shaving—you have to keep doing it.?—Olan Hendrix

To be successful most plans must be accomplished one step at a time. Here is an example: To have the amount you wish to retire on, you must set aside a definite monetary amount on a monthly basis. It may astonish you to learn that if you save 10% of your income and invest it at 8½% over a working life of 45 years, at retirement you will have saved an amount equal to 100% of your lifetime income!

7. Plans must be measurable. ?Have ye not heard? Long ago I did it, from ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass.?—Isaiah 37:26. To determine if your plans are succeeding, you need to take a regular check up of how you are doing. This review could be annually, quarterly or monthly, depending on the ultimate objective.

For example, if your plan is to save $100 per month from your salary, you would simply check at the end of twelve months to see if you have $1,200 in your savings account, plus interest. Don’t leave it there at 2-3% interest; place it in a low risk mutual fund with an 8-10% annual interest rate.

8. Plans must be thought of daily. ?The opportunity for greatness does not come cascading down like a torrential Niagara Falls, but rather it comes slowly, one drop at a time.?—Charlie Cullen

If you don’t have daily objectives or goals you are only a dreamer.

9. Plans must be communicated clearly. Written plans are best. They need to be expressed on paper to have the maximum chance of realization. In writing out your plans, you need to include a time line, what resources you will need to call upon, such as money or other people, and a list of potential problems you’ll need to solve.

10. Plans—developed with the right attitude. When you forget or wander from your plans, forgive yourself and get back on track.

11. Plans must include a time element. Goals need assigned target dates for accomplishing them. Set a deadline for your dream. It will increase your motivation and commitment by setting realistic target dates. Also, it will enable you to pinpoint your progress, at each stage. Always qualify your objective by writing down an actual date: ?By December 31, 2003, I will have paid off my two credit cards,? not just a phrase, ?in three months or by the end of the year.?

12. Plans must be persistent. The biggest difference between people who succeed and those who don’t is not usually talent, but persistence. Many brilliant people give up. Who wants to run the risk of getting knocked down again and again? But highly successful people don’t quit. It’s often been said that they are just individuals who got up one more time than they fell down.

?What if my plans fail?? Here are some important questions you need to ask when your plans fail:

? Were these really my plans?

? Was I motivated by my plans?

? Were my short-term plans consistent with my long-term dreams?

There are three kinds of plans:

1. Immediate plans—wash car, turn report in, clean house, buy food, do homework, and so on.

What are my immediate plans?

2. Intermediate plans—what can I accomplish in a week, month, or year.

What are my intermediate plans?

3. Infinite plans—extend for a whole lifetime, and some plans into eternity.

What are my infinite plans?

Conclusion

John Maxwell has defined the following; which do you want to be?—

? A ?cop out?—a person who sets no goals, and who makes no decisions?

? A ?hold out?—one who is unsure of reaching his goals, so he fails to start?

? A ?drop out?—one who starts, but stops when the going gets tough? Or,

? An ?all out?—a person who set goals, pays the price, and reaches his goals?

Let it be that we will choose to be an ?all out? person who plans wisely, remembering that if you ?commit to the Lord whatever you do ? your plans will succeed? (Pr 16:3).

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July–September, 2003

Family Finance