Someone was talking to me recently about different types of investment, and the concept of ‘fiat’ money. I had never even heard of it, and when I researched it, I saw a great lesson about setting goals…
So, what exactly is fiat money? Well, the next time you pull out a note to pay for something, you are using fiat money. ‘Fiat’ means ‘let it be done’ in Latin, and fiat money exists as a result of government decree. It has no value at all apart from that given to it by the government.
A £5 note for example, has no intrinsic value as the piece of paper – it is only worth £5 because the government says it is, and that confidence seeps through society allowing us to exchange it among ourselves.
Even coinage can be fiat money – the metal that makes up a £1 coin is worth less than £1 – it’s the fiat concept that gives it the value of that £1.
Ok, that’s the finance lesson out of the way, and I for one found it fascinating when I did that research. How does it relate to setting goals though…
You *do* write your goals down when you set them, right?
Well, I’ve been a strong advocate of writing goals down for a long time, for several reasons. Firstly because it helps to convert what may be a vague concept in your head to actual words, written in the real world, and that helps you to define the goal, an essential part of the process.
Secondly, it helps you to work out the next action you need to take to get you closer to the goal. A goal without a plan of how to get there is so much harder to achieve, and writing it down helps to create a step by step path to follow.
Thirdly, writing a goal down allows you to have something to refer back to as you go on the journey, checking your progress and keeping your target in mind. It creates accountability to yourself, which can in itself create motivation.
Well, yes and no. This is where the fiat money comparison comes into play.
Just as fiat money is worth more than the paper it’s written on, so your written goals can be worth so much more. That piece of paper you have can be worth a whole different life for you, achievement and adventure you might not have though possible.
Try and put a value on that!
That’s only if you do it properly though, by making the goal realistic, well defined, believable and measurable. Plus, you need to take action on the plan.
If you don’t do it properly, the written goals can be as totally worthless as fiat money when it goes wrong. Because fiat money is not tied to an actual commodity like gold, for example, the confidence in it can collapse very quickly. History is littered with examples of hyper inflation, where the value of paper money went down to zero.
The world economy in 2011 shows the spectre that this collapse can have on the world around us, as more and more countries get closer to not being able to pay their debts. Just printing more money can only work for so long, before it stops having perceived value.
That’s how fiat money can go wrong, and it’s the same when setting goals. If your written goals are not defined, if they have no plan of action, or if you never take the first step it details, they are worthless and you might as well have not bothered in the first place.
So, when setting your goals, learn from the concept of fiat money, and you’ll end up with a plan that is always worth more than the paper it’s written on!