Goal Visualisation or Goal Setting ? – Which one is better ?

POSTED BY Jagoinvestor ON March 15, 2011 COMMENTS (31)

Do you know how to write your financial goals? How many lines or words does it take? Think about your retirement goal for a moment. Now if you thought, “I have to generate a corpus of 5 crores in next 30 yrs” is a goal, you are mistaken… to a really large extent! While this way of defining goals is better than not defining a goal at all, this is not how you’d do it if you want to be inspired each moment as you work towards that goal. After a point, you’d just be lost again in your daily life. There is another way of writing financial goals and today, I show you how to do just that.
Goal visualization

Let me ask you a simple question. When are you excited about watching a new upcoming movie? What if I tell you that there is a new movie out soon, called “Kuch Log”? Will this tiny bit of information do anything in your mind? Does it excite you any? Does it inspire you to go to theatre and watch the movie? No! .

But what if I show you a trailer? Some exciting snapshots of the actual movie that give you a feel of how it will look like? The best tantalising glimpses?  Won’t it then, create a shift in your mind and motivate you to actually consider watching the whole movie?  I’d say Yes! . In the same way your financial goals defined in just one dry, boring line, with a target amount & date can not motivate you enough. It can motivate only those people who really are disciplined and committed in life .

In this article, I’ll share something very personal about us at Jagoinvestor. This process, is what we do with our clients. The way we work with them, goes way beyond traditional financial planning. Instead of just goal setting in the traditional way, we do something additional called Goal Visualization! . Goal Visualization is converting your target amount and target date into a more descriptive paragraph and see how your life will be in future . It gives you more clarity and what you actually want your goal to look like .

Here’s an example…

Year : 2040

I am retired now, and living in my native town of Bangalore. My house is a little far away from the city because I like to spend most of time in nature related activities like hobby farming and some social causes like consulting with poor farmers on how can they use today’s technology in their work.

I am trying to get back to my routine work, these days, as I’ve just returned from Australia , where I spent a month-long holiday. Next year’s destination is South Africa which recently got added to my list as the next world cup is there! I have all the time now, to go watch my country win there. It will also give my wife a chance to explore various historical sites of that country, which she loves a lot. Its part of my “30 countries I visit before I die” target that I had set for myself.

It gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction, when I teach mathematics to a group of 30 poor students who can’t afford a fee! That’s exactly I am doing these days. As I am retired now and really love the subject, I want to help in sharing my knowledge any way I can.

Me and my wife go for a daily walk in the morning; we have been doing it for years now, the last 20-25 years in fact. We have made sure that we won’t be victim of deteriorating health which will make all the money we have saved, all our lives fruitless! We have always done our best to keep ourselves on the move and now we have joined one the biggest health clubs in the city. It’s cost us more than 70 lacs for a lifetime membership, but it’s been worth the cost and it gives us all the time and resources we need from it, whenever we visit it.

I have generated enough wealth in my life which takes care of my basic needs and luxuries in life. I never have to think twice, before buying  something important. Money does not come in the way of my leading the kind life which I always dreamt of! I have achieved this! While I like to live simply, I have created a situation where money is the last thing which I have to worry about, as far as my life is concerned.

I have spent most of the time working for software giants across India and US, and  I never felt as if “This is exactly what I want to do!” Now I am free of those worries, which came in the way of  my desired life. I feel I am really spending each day of my life the way I always wanted to, not the way I am forced to because of various reasons in life. I am happy!”

Goal Visualization is not Dreaming

Goal visualization is not dreaming ! . You need to have a visions in life and this goal visualization is looking at how your vision will look like in future . Remember that Dhirubhai Ambani never had a goal of have 5 crore in retirement , He had a vision and that vision inspired him each moment in his life to move forward. To do anything which makes his vision true .

Goal Visualization gives you the power, it inspires you ! . It makes you crave for your financial goal which you create for yourself. You will not believe but most of our clients discover themselves and are amazed to find out how they themselves wanted their future life to be , and it happens only after they approach us to work on their financial life. There is less of number crunching here and more of human activities which connect to a person , motivates them and fills them with energy.

Your Action today after doing Goal visualisation

When you do goal visualization, go into the future and see yourself – Are you are happy? Excited to see yourself getting what you really want?  Then, come back to reality (come back to NOW). The next step is to answer a bigger and important question. You now, have to write what commitments are you willing to make, what efforts are ready to do today which can lead you to the goals you want for yourself.

It goes a little like this…

Year : 2011 ( Today)

I was actually thinking of upgrading my car from Santro to Honda as my salary has gone up by 100% in last 3 yrs, but If I look closely now, I feel that it was a “wish” created out of nothing. It’s not actually a  “need” !.  If I ask myself whether it’s really required, I see myself answering “Not Really”. I can actually continue with same Santro for next 3-4 years. Better that I, use my increased income to reach my retirement goal at the earliest.

My wife has subscribed to a gym membership but her trips to the gym are very limited. On second thoughts, we will stop paying 3,000 per month fees and better use Rs 150 per day pass every time she goes. Anyway she goes about twice a week, so it would save 1,800 bucks without compromising what we are doing right now. It’s just that we have to relook things and restructure them.

I save around Rs 5,000 a month, but after doing the goal visualization exercise, now I am committed to achieve it at any cost. I am not just committed, reaching my financial goals is my sole focus now. I will car-pool, I will cut on my smoking, I will limit my outings (at least the ones that do not matter), & I will cut down wherever I really can.  I will not compromise on things which I love or add to my family lifestyle and happiness, but I will be really merciless when it will come to things which I truly don’t want in my life. I will be now committed, on finding a better opportunity to work, I will get out of my comfort zone and take some hard decisions in life to make things happen now. I am going to start my SIP next week, Wait… why next week? What’s stopping me from doing it today?  What’s keeping me from doing right now? I will call someone right now and find out how its done! I will not let “I don’t know” kind of excuses come on my way! I’ll use “I just want it at any cost, no matter what” kind of energy to reach it.

This is the new mantra of goal setting which we are trying to incorporate in each person we meet or each person we encounter at Jagoinvestor. We give them food for thought, we make them connect to their own financial life and show them the power of doing Goal Visualization and not just scribble some numbers. If we were just computers, it would have worked! .

We make them write these things down. We do more of listening and less of instructing, because we make people instruct themselves!

Goal Visualization is not a replacement of Goal Setting

Note that goal visualization is not an alternate of traditional goal setting , rather its a supplement and additional exercise to make your vision stronger , make your commitment more strong and a reason for you to look at your goal with high priority and seriousness.

I hope you appreciate the fact that this way of goal visualization is better than fooling yourself with something like “I want to create 5 crores in 30 yrs for my retirement?” . It only gives you a short-term orgasmic happiness and then you start you day next week in the same manner as if nothing happened ! , unless you are high on discipline to save for that goal . Only then it can work ! . If you mix goal visualization with traditional way of goal setting , it can be much better than just goal setting and finding a number which you need to save monthly .

If you don’t take action after reading this post, it would be waste of your time truly speaking. So now, is the time you start writing down your goals in detail and visualize it. Do it right now! Not later, not after dinner today, not on the weekend and definitely not when you are free!

It has to be today, right now at this moment.

Send your goals visualization to me (A strong exercise)

What about this ? Download this Goal visualization sheet, Take two prints, You fill one of them and let your wife fill another (incase you have). Goal visualization is a joint family exercise, not just yours. It has to be taken by your spouse separately. You will be amazed to see how much it differs for you and your partner even if the target amount and date was same. You two, might visualize it very differently.

Once you are done with the goal visualization, send the filled sheets to me at  manish [at] jagoinvestor [dot] com. I’ll do my level best to look at them and give my comments if they are of any help to you. I don’t guarantee that I will get back the next hour, but I will try to get back as soon as possible . This exercise alone however, will give you some power to take action which you are missing till now in your life!

Comments ? You can also pick up a goal and do goal visualisation on the comments section too. See if you feel it is strong enough! , Do you feel it helps you to generate some commitment and leads you one step closer to taking action ?

Disclaimer : The examples given in this article for goal visualization are created just for article and it’s not a real example of some person.

31 replies on this article “Goal Visualisation or Goal Setting ? – Which one is better ?”

  1. Khurshid says:

    Great stuff sir,
    I have really inspired by ur post.

  2. kishor says:

    Article is good but the first example of year 2040 looks totally unrealistic. Do you think that by 2040 there will a even a inch of land remain for activities like farming(that too even for farmers) ?
    by then, all of the land (capable of farming) in india would have been captured by builders and politicians.
    let’s be more practical and face the truth with naked eyes.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. I am very positive but at the same time I am just witness to what’s happening around.


    1. Kishor

      If thats the case , how will people survive . If there would be no land for even farmers , where will food come from ?

      And why does it look unrealistic to you ? Dont you see many people investing in land out side the city limits today for their retirement ?


      1. kishor says:

        hey manish,

        I hope, my comments were not harsh. They were like that because I am seeing changes around my place and getting nervous with those changes. Farmers are selling the lands to builders for cheap and almost 100 kms of area out of which 80% was under farming has been captured so far by builders lobby.

        My comments are really not relevant to this article but when I read the example given by you I became little emotional.
        I would love to live the example you just written here.

        oh yes, I like all your articles and your efforts counts!


        1. Kishor

          No , It was not harsh 🙂 .

          My point is that its pactically impossible to not have any land for agriculture becuase we need food , and in any case it wont happen .

          Yes your case is extreme and people are selling lands , but then it might be happening from last 50 yrs ! . Lets see for how long it can continue

          Keep reading


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  4. Srinivas says:

    Good article Manish. Keep it up.

    As before, there were points and counter points on the content, which are welcome.

    There are different levels of persons in the world. So is the case with students(learners) in financial world too. Some are smart and understand before being told, some who understand when told and some who cannot understand even after a some explanation.

    Many areticles and how tos are meant for the last group which is fairly big. As highlighted by some readers, it is not required, if one is already planned and on the way to secure future. But this group, i am afraid i very small.

    Many people are in group two or three which needs some explanations and road maps to make the process easier for them to understand and follow.

    I think this article is to be taken in that spirit.

    After all this, i feel, one should get charged up and slowly become self motivated so that in some reasonble time, he outgrows the need of such regular inputs (spoon feeding may be a harshword) and gather the information for a financial decision himself.

    As regards my goals etc, i am becoming financialy literate (moved from group 3 to group 2) over past two years by going through literature and reading blogs like these. Goal is retire by 50 years and spend some time on things which i really love.

    Thanks once again Manish.

    1. Srinivas

      Great to see that you are moving in your financial life in right direction . As you pointed out its all about being charged up !


  5. Vishal says:

    Great post Manish. Such visualizations surely benefits persons who are not very disciplined and goal focused.

    1. Nandish says:

      Hi Vishal,

      It helps all , it would be great if you can share what are you taking on in your financial life after reading this post.

      Team Jagoinvestor

  6. Ketan says:

    Manish bhai, I liked it. A different way to look at financial goals. The only concern I see is that such goal realization may push people to set unrealistic goals. If that happens, if we link this to goal targets & link it back to current state then the person may feel depressed. For e.g. someone may visualize the goal as ” Year 2040, I am retired and recently I completed the paperwork for buying that small island in the Caribbean…..” (dream??). Someday it may really be possible, but if a person links it back to the current financial state he/she may feel frustrated with his “poor” state and shun this entire exercise. How to ensure that we are visualizing a realistic thing? How frequently we need to track/re-correct the visualizations?

    Best luck for company registration and listing…


    1. Ketan

      Yes it can make people set unrealistic goals, but as I mentioned in the article itself that it is not something to be done in isolation , Its an extention of goal setting in traditional method .

      One has to be visualize what can happens , not just dream !


  7. Neelesh says:


    This is all about discipline .Money is most dearest to man and this “discipline” will move to other areas via the “MONEY” route and help to develop other areas also like health,their other hobbies etc……

    regarding goals my goals may be
    1) to retire at 40 and be a traveler this i want to do but it is a dream only rather a wish ……
    2)have a house.

    that’s all i can think of right now.

    1. Nandish says:

      It is a paradox of life: The problem with patience and discipline is that it requires both of them to develop each of them……….Only the disciplined are free, they are slow but very consistent………….they are not market driven but discipline driven………….Be a disciple of Money and it can change your financial Life……….It puts you BACK on TRACK…………..

  8. Atul says:

    Hi Manish,

    Great stuff to read. Optimistic would definitely visualize, left alone the pessimistic.

    Expressing my views here. I think it would be appropriate to mention Mahatama Gandhi example who visualize India as free country. Of course this was non financial vision. Ambani’s have created wealth via unethical ways too.I am sure most of the clients would like to earn money via ethical ways only.

    BTW dreaming is not bad. Good dreams can be converted into visions!



    1. Nandish says:

      Hi Atul,

      You are right visualization is a great thinking tool , Gandhi saw the vision of indie being free, he declared and stood for it long enough………..we can also create our financial vision, declare it to the world and stand for each others financial freedom………..

      When Gandhi said that you can’t change other people, but you can “be the change you wish to see” in others, there was great practical wisdom in that remark.

      Gandhi’s words are very practical! (He was handing us a tool to use, not a quote to make himself look good.)

      By this article Manish intends to GIFT a powerful tool to all ………The Tool of visualization…………..It is not what your financial goal is, the thing that matters is what your financial goal does to you, does it wake you up from your bed, does it guide you to stay in action, does it fill your life with action and energy …..if it does that is your true financial goals…………..

      I find your comment inspiring so added a few things.

      For your financial success

      Team jagoinvestor

  9. Vinaya H S says:

    You’re right. It need not be an either-or. Goal-setting and visualization are what got me out of debt and on track with my personal finances (http://www.vinayahs.com/archives/tag/financial-goals/).

    1. VInaya

      Thats really a great post . I went through it . It was indeed a bold decision and requires great committment 🙂


  10. abhinav says:

    hi manish

    Excellent post. I must complement you for taking financial planning to a different level with your posts, which are really thought provoking.
    your post is bang on, in the sense that it requires one to create a compelling vision of the goal, so clear that we

    1. Abhinav

      Thanks for comment 🙂 . yes you are right that it helps us to create a vision out of our boring goal and inspires us ! . Looks like you left your comment in between , is it ?


      1. Abhinav says:

        Hi Manish

        Yes you guessed it right….I could not completed it. Further to my earlier comment, in my view, in my view, goal visualisation is a really high value add activity in the life planning process, and surely more difficult than putting a number today to your dreams and then chasing it. Acknowledging that it shall be more difficult (which means that the investor will have to look beyond his financial obligations, and focus on his aspirations and life purpose), however, as you very rightly pointed out, a thorough ground work at the conceptualisation stage itself will ensure a solid, stable and most importantly, a sustainable financial planning structure.

        Also Manish, as you pointed out, I think that its not very difficult to crunch numebrs and develop a plan, but to sit and spend some time with the client, and empower him to make his/her ‘life’ plan, before aligning the finance aspect, is something that shall greatly add value to the whole process, and as I said in my earlier comment to your post, will take the financial planning activity to a different level.

        Thanks for the refreshingly new thought, your posts are a great learning!!


        1. Abhinav

          Yes .. Crunching numbers and developing a plan is something whcih requires expertise and some knowledge , but to some extent , it can be done by a person himself , if not 100% correctly . But motivating a person and making sure he is excited to reach his goal is a big task which we do with our clients in our financial coaching program .


  11. Jayant S Koppikar says:

    A very good article. I think visualization surely helps but quantifying the numbers is equally important.

    1. Nandish says:

      yes jayant you are right one needs to quantify, creating a project, setting milestones, putting right structures in place, visualization can be seen as a first step for creating a powerful financial vision, something that inspires you each day , each month each year……..Dhirubhai never had a small goal of having 5cr as retirement corpus he rather had an inspiring vision in life………

  12. herge says:

    ‘Goal Visualization’ seems to be just a fancy term for:
    Use your common sense. Live a simple life today; Spend less than you earn and try save as much as you spend. Differentiate from your needs and wants.

    Al this has been covered earlier at Jagoinvestor before (when did it become a company. You make it sound like one! Are your shares listed?)

    “I have to generate a corpus of 5 crores in next 30 yrs” is a goal, you are mistaken… to a really large extent!

    is good enough for me. I know my needs today (duh!) I can anticipate my needs and wants for tomorrow. Thankfully I earn enough to save enough for these goals and hopefully I will get there.

    Lets face it when you calculate your needs for tomorrow how many use double digit inflation!! Make your inflation double digit and see your visualization bubble explode!

    1. Herge

      thanks for your views . Yes as you said “Goal Visualization” will be nothing more than a fancy term of dream if one does not connect it with their vision in life and dont be realistic in life .

      Its also not replacement of goal setting and doing those calculations which can tell you how much to save per month . As you said that normal goal setting is working well for you and you are motivated enough to be disciplined on that , which shows that you are so clear on your goal and how you want it to be .

      Goal visualization helps a person in exactly that which you have already completed in your life .

      Regarding we being in a company , we are in process of registering it now and not sure if we will have it as company or a firm only . We are definately listed , but I would love to make it happen one day 🙂 .


      1. Anup S Katariya says:

        Good reply Manish. you have been doing a excellent job dude.
        Keep up the good work. Would be glad to see your company established and listed as well 😀

        1. Anup

          Thanks 🙂 . Did you like this goal visualisation thing ?


          1. Anup S Katariya says:

            Yes indeed and look, I have already started listing my goals with realistic thoughts.

            Kudos to your inspirational articles.

            1. Great 🙂 . Keep reading and share it with others 🙂

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