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“When I was in my early 20s, my parents told me that I should aim to earn RM10k monthly by the time I’m 30. As time flew by, my simmering stress started to boil over – because I’m nowhere near making that five figures! Now that I’m older, I realise that wasn't my goal to achieve, but someone else's imposed on me." 


Many of us have dreams, ambitions and life goals that we want to achieve. As we grow older, we feel more pressure to attain them. If you’ve been in the same situation where someone “handed” you a seemingly unattainable goal, don’t stress and succumb to the pressure.


Instead, ask yourself these two questions: 


What do you Want to Achieve? 


Parents, peers or social media often lead us to believe that ‘success’ is earning a five-figure income, buying an expensive/imported car, married with kids at 26 and owning multiple properties by the time you’re in your 30s – but what’s the point if these do not spark joy in you?


If you’re just stepping into adulthood, try to picture what a fulfilling future looks like to you. Just know that your goals should be meaningful to you. Your goals should matter only to YOU. Don’t spend your life achieving goals that don’t resonate with you or attaining someone else’s life.  


Do you Know How to Get There? 


Once you’ve determined what you want to achieve, focus on how to get there. You can even chart a path and plan your way towards your goals. However, keep in mind that it’s okay to move the timeline, shift or change your goals as you grow. Life is a journey that’s always changing, and it makes sense for you to evolve and change alongside it.


Your early career should focus on building a concrete foundation for the kind of life you want. Prioritise building your knowledge, skills (these don’t have to be work related!) and connections to get to where you want to be.


Becoming a crazy rich Asian not part of your goal? Good for you! However, learning how to manage your money should be. Financial knowledge and money management skills can help you in achieving financial stability in the long term. The more you don’t need to worry about money, the easier it’ll likely be to strive for your goals and future wellbeing. Most importantly, be wary of the pressure to keep up with the Joneses and know that living a lavish lifestyle – especially when you feel pressured to do so – doesn’t equate success.  


Understanding Your Battleground


Whatever your goals are and how long you take to reach them depends on your battleground. Much like in video games, You’ll defeat the enemies faster and easier when you have better tools and supplies. Life is pretty much the same. If you’ve had a head start in your career, don’t have accommodation issues, money troubles or student loans, you’ll probably be able to focus and reach your goals faster.


Do you have a financial or salary goal in mind? Know that the industry you’re working in will most likely affect your goal progression. If you’re working in a prestigious consultancy firm or technology sector, it’s likely easier to reach a higher pay as you grow. For example, earning an RM5k salary at 23 years old means that it’ll be easier to reach your financial goals sooner than a person earning less.



Be Bold and Stay Strong


Once you're certain about what you want to achieve and how to get there, get started on your journey and remember to be bold and stay the course! No matter your end goal, you should always be financially ready for any uncertainties in the future. Some tips that you can consider when charting your future: 


  • Eliminate your worries by building an emergency fund for rainy days
  • Start a long-term savings plan for your future goals (especially retirement)


Most importantly, remember to be flexible and forgiving of yourself on your way to achieving your dreams. Having goals can give you a sense of direction and can help you live your best possible life – so create your own goals (no matter how unconventional they may be!) and reach for your star! 



This article is brought to you by CIMB as part of our ongoing efforts to raise the level of financial literacy among Malaysians. Financial knowledge and understanding are key to making well-informed and meaningful financial decisions that will improve all our well-being. This, in turn, achieves CIMB’s purpose of advancing customers and society.