The online survey of 1,000 adults aged 25 or older revealed that 72% of people are likely to set financial goals for themselves. This is followed by family (62%), fitness (57%), work (55%), and diet (54%) goals.
Among financial goals, retirement and long-term security were cited as the most common variety of goals.Specifically, Northwestern Mutual found the priority of financial goals to be:
- Maintaining a comfortable standard of living during retirement (78% reporting 7 or higher on a scale of 1-10)
- Not falling below your current standard of living (73%)
- Protecting your income in the event of a disability (60%)
- Protecting your family’s standard of living in the event that the household breadwinner passes way unexpectedly (55%)
- Building a sizable investment portfolio (47%)
- Making a major purchase such a car, boat or furniture (30%)
- Financing your children’s college education (29%)
When asked what areas people feel they could use more self-discipline in, fitness/diet goals outweighed financial goals, 62% to 47%.
The “Stick With It” study also set out to examine strategies people use to achieve their goals. Northwestern reports that the most common strategy that seems to work is “setting small interim goals,” with 67% reporting this as a key step to ensure a long-term goal is achieved. The two next most common strategies are “allowing yourself to make mistakes” (62%) and “holding yourself accountable” (60%).
“Achieving long-term goals is particularly challenging at a time when just about everything around us is getting more immediate,” said Greg Oberland, Northwestern Mutual executive vice president. “The good news is that Americans appear to be adapting. The people who participated in this study said loud and clear – the best way to stay focused is to take baby steps, expect setbacks, and never let yourself off the hook. In short: don’t expect it to be easy, but stick with it.”
Northwestern Mutual sponsored the Stick With It study with independent research firm Market Probe. Market Probe conducted the online survey of 1,000 Americans aged 25 or older between March 4, 2011 and March 15, 2011. Results were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population (age 25+) by gender, age, income and education.