Milestone birthdays offer a chance for reflection

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Last week I turned 40! I’m really not sure where all the years went. I think back fondly on my 21st and 30th birthdays and they certainly don’t feel like the 10 and 19 years ago that basic maths tells me they were.

Like most milestones, major birthdays can be great cause for reflection and, during the last week, I’ve looked back at all the things I imagined I would have achieved by the time I reached 40.

I feel fortunate that I have achieved many of the goals I had both formally and informally set for myself in my career, my life and financially.

However, there are many areas where I have fallen short of my aims. Embarrassingly, as a Financial Planner who is a big believer in superannuation, I have far less money in my super than I’d like. This is a consequence of being self-employed for almost all of my entire working career.

The last 10 years have gone in the blink of an eye, I assume the next 10 will fly past as well. The old saying rings true, 10 years from now feels like forever, but 10 years ago feels like yesterday. Before I know it, I’ll be 50!

This thought process has given me the incentive to address the areas that I feel need attention now, rather at some undetermined point in the future. Furthermore, it was a needed reminder to track my progress regularly rather than wait for some arbitrary milestone to kick me into action.

It is excellent practice to look at the big picture goals on a regular basis and ensure you are on track.

Some of these goals seem so far away, they almost seem meaningless, however, if we ignore them, we run the risk of never reaching them.

Things like paying off your mortgage and having enough money to retire are probably the most common goals, they are also the goals people often forget about. A simple way to do this is to check in with your goals on an annual basis. Compare where you were 12 months ago, see how far you’ve come, then set a target for where you’d like to be next year, as well as longer range forecasts.

If you are a little behind, try to do a little extra now, rather than being forced to do a lot extra later.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the next best time is now.

Start working towards your goals because, next thing you know, you’ll be passing your next milestone and looking back thinking, where did all that time go?

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