I’ve spent several decades in the financial sector and written hundreds of millions of dollars of loans. Being financially literate is a cause I passionately believe in – but money has never been the driving force.

Instead, I’ve found that life decisions are best made when you work out what you really want, and follow a logical process to get there.

Here’s what worked for me. Maybe it could work for you too?

Step 1. Choose the personal goals that inspire you.

Newly single at the age of 33, I asked myself where I wanted to be in 25 years. The answer was that I wanted to own property, be debt-free and have plenty of opportunities for adventurous travel.

Your answers might be different – but it’s important to ask the big questions. You might put it like this: “How do I have a great life?”

As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

Step 2. Create a financial plan to get there.

I suggest you work backwards from the end result, and calculate the amounts you’ll need to get there. For me, the process involved working out the average rent I’d need on a property portfolio to cover my desired income at 60. This provided the basis for creating my property portfolio.

Having a plan with a concrete goal took sentiment out of the property buying process. Decisions were made on rental yield. If the numbers added up, I put in a bid. If they didn’t, I moved onto the next opportunity.

Step 3. Live the dream.

Your financial plan is only a means to an end. It’s simply what gives you the freedom to live your own, unique dream.

My dream lifestyle involves regular time off in places like Bhutan, the Maldives and Norway, where the culture is very different and the challenges are real. In the last five years I’ve been skiing in Japan and mountain biking in Inner Mongolia. I learned to ski at 50 and in the same year completed my first duathlon (which I’m proud to say I won) and took part in my first triathlon. I won my age group in that competition, and if the ankle biters hadn’t been in my race I’d have been 2nd overall!

Of course, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to help you achieve your own particular dream. One is to find a mentor and ask to be held to your commitments. I’ll cover this in next month’s edition of Matters of Interest.