August 6, 2017

Stewardship Transformation pt. 4: Finding Your Why

In our last three newsletters, we’ve highlighted Michael Hyatt’s strategy for setting and achieving goals from his “Best Year Ever” seminar and have applied those specifically to stewardship. In February, we talked about our tendency to buy into “limiting beliefs” that discourage us and stand in the way of achieving our goals. We learned to replace those beliefs with “liberating truths” that focus on God’s provision for us. In April, we talked about the importance of “completing the past”, recognizing how we got to where we are and identifying any changes we need to make in order to achieve our stewardship goals. Last newsletter, we discussed “designing the future” – setting SMARTER goals that stretch us and honor God with our finances.

How have you been doing in these areas? We hope that the process we’ve laid out has been helpful to you. This month, we want to dive into what Hyatt calls “Finding Your Why” – uncovering the motivation behind your stewardship goals.

If you read this month’s Truths That Transform article, hopefully you discovered how Jesus’ two Great Commandments can serve as the motivation for a lifestyle of stewardship. And that’s a great place to start. But to really connect with these motivators, we need to personalize them. For example, I can say that I want to limit my lifestyle spending so that I can have more to share with others – and that’s certainly a motivation in line with the Two Great Commandments. But it may not be concrete or “real” enough to motivate me when I’m staring at the new 4K big screen TV with a much sharper image than my current TV. On the other hand, if I’m making a choice for a simpler lifestyle in order to donate more to provide for clean water in Africa through World Vision, that’s a concrete enough vision to motivate specific decisions.

Or suppose you have a goal of setting aside $10,000 a year for your children’s college education. Finding your why means listing the major reasons why it’s important to you to provide for your children’s education. Do you want to spare them the burden of significant debt coming out of college? What are you hoping your children will be able to achieve as a result of going to college? These become your motivations.

It’s important to set financial goals based on real information as opposed to “finger in the wind” guesses. Goals based on solid data carry more weight and are easier to motivate. In the above example, if the $10,000 a year was based simply on what you felt you could put aside (without any reference to what your children will likely need for college), then it can be easy to talk yourself out of making that goal a priority this year. In light of how much we want this vacation, maybe it’s OK to start the college fund next year. But if you’ve done the research and reached a data-based conclusion about how much money your children will need, then the savings goal becomes more imperative, and your motivations for reaching the goal stand on firmer ground.

Hyatt recommends identifying up to 5-7 motivations for each major goal, writing them down, and then ranking them in order of priority. The final step is to connect with each motivation both intellectually and emotionally. What would it mean to you to achieve (or not achieve) the goal?

So, for example, suppose you had a goal of getting out of debt. Ask yourself questions like, “How will my life be different if I achieve this goal?” “What will I miss out on if I don’t accomplish this goal?”

Here’s an example: Suppose you set a goal of getting out of debt. Motivations might include:

  • “I won’t be hassled by phone calls from bill collectors”
  • “I won’t worry about losing my house/car”
  • “I won’t worry about utilities being turned off
  • “I’ll be able to start saving for retirement”

Motivations like this can help keep your decisions aligned with your goals. When you’re making that next major purchase decision and you have a choice between more expensive and less expensive options, the thought of the relief you’ll feel when you’re out of debt and creditors aren’t calling any more can help guide your choice.