It’s never too late to achieve your life goals

It’s natural to put pressure on ourselves to achieve our goals. With social media showing us a filtered version of our peers’ lives, many Brits feel the need to strive towards the next step as soon as possible.

But, really, having a long-term goal should be something to be excited about rather than anxious to achieve. In this blog, we’re looking at whether our expectations match up with reality when it comes to hitting life’s milestones and how to set meaningful goals.

Your milestone moments could happen sooner than you think

Our research* suggests that most Brits stay on track to achieve milestones, and often even hit them sooner.

People expect to leave their parents’ home at 25 and buy their first property by 31. Yet, on average, our survey respondents actually left home aged 22 and bought their first property at 28 – three years sooner than the age they expected it to be achieved.

Brits also get engaged, get married and start a family on average three years sooner than they expected to.

If you’re worried you’re not meeting your self-imposed milestone deadline – don’t be. You never know what’s around the corner.

Money worries can be a real milestone blocker

When we asked Brits to tell us the main barriers to them achieving their goals, we found that money worries often came top of the list.

The rising cost of living is a barrier to…

  • 15% of people completing education
  • 17% of people getting engaged
  • 23% of people getting married
  • 28% of people starting a family
  • 37% of people passing their driving test
  • 48% of people getting their first car
  • 53% of people holidaying without their parents for the first time
  • 67% of people buying their first property
  • 72% of people leaving their parents’ home

This is particularly prevalent amongst younger people, with over 20% of 25-34-year-olds believing that starting a family, getting married or owning property is currently unattainable.

Overcoming financial barriers

If you’re on the brink of giving up on key milestones due to the rising cost of living, don’t give up hope just yet. These simple tips could help you stay on-track to achieve your financial goals:

1. Set your financial goals

What does financial success look like to you? You might want to be completely debt-free, escape the 9-5 grind, build an emergency savings fund, own your own property outright or simply have enough in the bank to avoid stressing about money.

Understanding where you want to be will help you to devise a plan to get there.

2. Manage your budget

One of the simplest ways to control your spending is to create a budget – and stick to it.

Understanding how much money you spend regularly, and what you spend your money on, will help you to identify areas you can cut back on. Perhaps you could cancel that streaming service you rarely use, or cut back on lunches out when you’re in the office? Taking even small steps to adjust your spending can make a big difference.

3. Improve your financial literacy

Those with greater financial understanding are typically better equipped to manage their money. Improving your financial literacy could help you to feel more confident when it comes to budgeting, saving, borrowing and investing.

4. Develop a savings plan

Once you have a defined goal in mind, it’ll be much easier to work towards it. For example, if you’re saving up for a set of driving lessons or an engagement ring, why not challenge yourself to set a certain amount aside each month? This will give you a clearer idea of when you’ll have enough money saved up to buy what you want.

Make sure the goal you set is realistic, giving you something attainable to work towards.

5. Consider spreading the cost of significant purchases

If you just can’t wait to get your hands on a new car, or want to start planning a fairytale wedding, saving up can be a frustrating process. A personal loan allows you to borrow the money you need and pay it back over time. Spreading the cost over fixed-rate monthly repayments could help you to reach your goals sooner.

Do think carefully before applying for any lines of credit, including a personal loan. You can use a loan calculator to estimate the cost of borrowing, including how much a loan could cost you each month and in total. You may decide that living on what you earn, and saving up for those bigger purchases, may suit your lifestyle and your financial circumstances better than using credit.

6. Carry as little debt as you can

While taking out a loan may make the cost of a significant purchase more manageable, try to avoid taking out too much credit – particularly to fund day-to-day spending.

Existing debts can drain your budget, so paying off high-interest debt such as credit cards should be a priority. If you have several high-interest debts but would prefer to manage just one monthly repayment, research debt consolidation loans to find out whether that could be a suitable option for you.

7. Speak to a professional

We know talking about money can be tough but, often, working through your budget with a third party can be helpful. There are several charities and non-for-profit organisations who provide free and impartial advice. An organisation like StepChange, for example, can help you to get your finances back on track.

Setting your own life goals

Though financial uncertainty was one of the main reasons people struggled to meet key milestones, ‘having other priorities in life’ was also predominantly cited. It seems deciding on individual life goals is a priority for Brits more than ever, with less importance placed on monetary milestones or milestones involving settling down.

Our question is this: have ‘milestones’ become outdated goals? Is marriage, property investment and buying a car really at the top of the Zillennial agenda?

According to research by the Prince’s Trust, 64% of young people say their biggest goal in life is to achieve financial security, with 43% reporting their biggest goal is having good mental health.

Instead of striving to make your way through an arbitrary tick list of goals, think about what you really want to achieve in life. Decide what’s important to you both in the short-term and long-term, eventually listing our goals across a wide range of categories including your professional and personal goals.

A goal is a dream with its work boots on

- Rachel Hollis

4 goal-setting tips

1. Dream big, but set smaller goals to help you along the way

Goals are often long-term visions for the future, so getting there is going to take time. Split each large goal into shorter, more achievable steps. Work your way through each of these individual steps until you start to see your overarching goal take shape.

This will help to keep you motivated, as you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come.

2. Set SMART goals

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Choose clear goals that are within reach and set a specific deadline for achieving them. Without following the SMART system, you could find yourself with vague or unrealistic goals and nothing driving you towards them.

3. Hold yourself accountable

Write down your goals. Share them with your friends and family. When you remind yourself of your vision and have others supporting you, you’ll be more driven to achieve your goals.

4. Review and refresh your goals

Your goals might change over time. Evaluate them regularly to make sure you still feel your goals are relevant to your life path. You might need a bit more time to reach your goal, or you might need another higher-priority goal to take its place. It’s okay to adjust.

Share your goals with us

Whether you want to travel to one of your bucket list destinations or renovate your home, we want to hear about your life goals. Head to Facebook or Instagram or, if you’ve used a loan to help you get to your goals sooner, why not share your #LoveNovuna story with us?

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a YouGov survey. Total sample size was 2076 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27th - 28th July 2023.  The survey was carried out online and analyzed independently by Novuna. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).


Written by

Sophie Venner

Sophie Venner is a Yorkshire-based content writer specialising in crafting content for the financial services industry. She’s written over 300 articles on finance, but she’s covered everything from insurance to digital marketing trends. Her content has been featured in the likes of Semrush, Digital Marketing Magazine and Insurance Business. In her spare time, you won’t find Sophie far from a notepad and pen as she squirrels away trying to write a novel.

Wednesday 6th September 2023