Using hope and fear to meet your financial goals

Everything anybody does is because of hope or fear.

Hope and fear drive every action we take, whether we are conscious about them or not.

Take a moment to think about what motivates people at work.  Is it the hope that their work will be appreciated or the fear of getting fired? Maybe it’s a combination of both.  Now take a moment to think what motivates social action, is it the fear of being alone or is it the hope to stay connected.

Hope and Fear are essentially the drivers for action. You can use them to help achieve your financial goals (or for that matter any goals). When most people set goals, they are thinking in terms of a target or a milestone. That view is essentially a limited one as it just sets an objective but does not motivate you to achieve the objective once the goal is set. However if you break down your goals into hope and fear you will have a motive to perform.

Try doing this, take one of your financial goals and answer these two simple questions:

  • Why do you want to achieve this goal?
  • What happens if you don’t achieve this goal? 

Let’s take an example:

Joe has a goal to save $1,500 for a family vacation.

Why does he want to do that?

Joe wants to spend quality time with his family; that is his desire or hope.

What happens if he not able to do it?

Probably his kids will be upset as he had promised them for a good break this summer

In this case Hope is probably the primary motivator .The goal is just a manifestation of his desire or hope.

Let’s take another example:

Catherine has a goal of saving $50K towards post-graduate tuition.

Why does she want to do that?

Catherine wants to pay part of the tuition for her post-graduate degree.

What happens if she is not able to do it?

She probably fears she may wind up with a huge debt after the post-graduate course; she may graduate in a bad job market and not get a job or the job she gets might not be sufficient to pay her debt and living expenses.

What’s the motivation here for Catherine? Fear.  Fear of having excessive debt or graduating into a bad job market is motivating her to save towards tuition and incur less debt. Fear can act as a powerful motivator for action.  For example, if I fear not having enough savings for retirement, that fear acts as a motivator for me to delay spending and save towards retirement.

If you can break your financial goals into hope and fear and allow them to motivate you; you can control your actions, and achieve your goals.

How have hope and fear helped you move towards your financial goals?

Leave a Reply

Name *
Email *
Website