The importance of planning and goal setting for a healthy future

It’s become a summer like no other, and while restrictions continue to lift, day-to-day life remains far from normal for many of us. Markets have stabilized since the extreme volatility caused by COVID-19 earlier in the year, but it remains difficult to tell what the future might hold. Smart planning is of key importance, and as long-term investors, the recent market volatility doesn’t need to change that. The importance of setting goals and intelligently planning how to achieve them is as true now as it was last year and works just as well with our health as with our wealth. With that in mind, we’ve outlined some helpful tips on how planning ahead and setting goals now can help lead to a healthy and financially fit future. 

5 tips for setting and sticking to healthy goals

1   Stay safe

Make sure to practice physical distancing and other safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Next, if you haven’t exercised in some time, start off slow and follow the advice of your doctor. Avoid activities that may cause injury. It may be a good idea to seek out a certified fitness professional for online coaching or consultations.

2   Set goals and a schedule

Carve out time for exercise in your daily schedule. Even if you’re not planning to do an intense workout every day, keep that time for anything active, whether you deep clean the house or turn your home into a gym. Start with activities that are doable for your current fitness level. Remember, do what you can—doing something is better than doing nothing. If 10 minutes of walking is all you can commit to, do it. Build up gradually to reduce injury risk and celebrate your milestones as you improve your fitness. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself and take a rest day if you need it!

3   Make it enjoyable

Do something you enjoy, whether it’s a round of golf, jogging, or going on long walks with the dog. If you look forward to the activity, it will be that much easier to stick with it. Make it creative and fun.

4   Have an accountability partner

Share your goals with an accountability partner, preferably someone who’s also looking for new ways to stay active. Schedule check-ins at least once a week and report on progress. Pick someone you feel like you can be honest with who’s encouraging and supportive. 

5   Take a virtual fitness class

If you usually go to a gym or a spin or yoga studio, check if they’re offering any classes online. There are now several online streaming options for fitness classes,  including on social media. Always make sure the instructor is a certified fitness professional, such as a certified personal trainer or instructor. This could be a perfect time to try something new!

5 tips for setting and sticking to financial goals

1   Stay invested

In times of extreme volatility and wild market swings, it can be very easy to give in to our emotional instincts and head for the exit. However, history has taught us that despite our emotional responses, it makes sense to stay invested, particularly for those with a longer investment horizon. Historical data shows that when stock markets return from a steep market sell-off, the rebounds are typically sharp, sustained, and can happen very quickly, and the most recent shock was no different. Earlier this year, fears over COVID-19 caused some of the steepest market sell-offs on record, but investors who withdrew at the height of the uncertainty missed out on a recovery that was just as sudden, thereby locking in losses. While it may not be easy, try to set aside your emotions and focus on long-term goals. Turmoil can often lead to opportunity.

Table listing the 10 trading days where the S&P 500 Index experienced the biggest daily drawdown, and how it fared a year, three years, five years and 10 years after each of those drawdown.

2   Have an investment time horizon

Most high-net-worth investors have a long investment timeframe, and that’s something they can use to their advantage. Warren Buffet has often said that his number one strategic advantage in investing is an extraordinarily long time horizon, and high-net-worth investors can enjoy the same benefits. The challenge is to hold your nerve and learn to regard market turmoil as an opportunity. Extreme market sell-offs drive stock prices down and can present an ideal time for long-term investors to add to their portfolio.

3   Stay diversified

Diversification has typically been able to help mitigate the worst impact of market drawdowns. Private assets such as real estate, infrastructure, farmland, and timberland have long been hailed by institutional investors for their merits as portfolio diversifiers with attractive risk/return characteristics: They can offer dependable cash yields, inflation protection, and, importantly in times of high volatility, low correlations with mainstream financial markets.

4   Have a goal

You most likely have a clearly defined set of financial goals you want to achieve, such as maximizing income in retirement, purchasing a second property, or funding your children’s education. This is another reason why taking a long-term view on markets can pay off. One way to help prioritise and achieve those aspirations is goal-based investing. This is a simple approach for high-net-worth investors with specific targets in mind. It allows you to set risk parameters for goals of varying importance and urgency, measuring success or failure against real-world goals rather than market benchmarks. It’s an elegantly simple approach that resonates with many investors. Separating what was one catch-all pool into several goal-oriented buckets, however, requires more work with asset allocation, monitoring, and reporting necessary for each portfolio. The good news is that with professional support from a trusted private wealth manager, the process can be largely pain free.

5   Engage an advisor

Much like hiring a fitness coach can improve your physical health, engaging a financial professional can pay dividends for your investments. Data shows that investors who use an advisor have better outcomes in the long run than a do-it-yourself investor. A good advisor will have a clearly defined process in place that can help guide you through rough markets, manage risk, and help you achieve your long-term investment objectives. 

Achieving financial goals in today’s environment requires accountable expertise and personalized solutions. That’s why Manulife Private Wealth’s unique goals-based approach to investing is complemented with leading institutional solutions. Leveraging Manulife Investment Management’s asset allocation team, portfolios are created with forward-looking asset mixes and receive the same investment methodology that Manulife uses to manage its own investment portfolio. Our open-architecture platform provides access to institutional money managers, including both Manulife Investment Management and leading third-party firms around the globe.

Manulife Private Wealth clients can also access, at reduced entry-level minimums, a suite of real asset classes¹ that strive to deliver diversification and growth benefits to complement their global investment portfolio.

Should you have investment assets you believe warrant a second opinion, contact Manulife Private Wealth.

1 Investments subject to restrictions and availability.


A widespread health crisis such as a global pandemic could cause substantial market volatility, exchange-trading suspensions and closures, and affect portfolio performance. For example, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has resulted in significant disruptions to global business activity. The impact of a health crisis and other epidemics and pandemics that may arise in the future could affect the global economy in ways that cannot necessarily be foreseen at the present time. A health crisis may exacerbate other preexisting political, social and economic risks. Any such impact could adversely affect the portfolio’s performance, resulting in losses to your investment.

This material was prepared solely for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute a recommendation, professional advice, an offer, solicitation, or an invitation by or on behalf of Manulife Investment Management to any person to buy or sell any security. Nothing in this material constitutes investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice, or a representation that any investment or strategy is suitable or appropriate to your individual circumstances, or otherwise constitutes a personal recommendation to you.

Diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against a loss in any market.

Investing involves risks, including the potential loss of principal. Financial markets are volatile and can fluctuate significantly in response to company, industry, political, regulatory, market, or economic developments. Past performance does not ensure future results, and you should not rely on it as the basis for making an investment decision.

Neither Manulife Private Wealth nor any other companies in the Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC) group are acting as an advisor or fiduciary to or for any recipient of this report unless otherwise agreed in writing. Neither Manulife Private Wealth or its affiliates, nor any of their directors, officers, or employees, shall assume any liability or responsibility for any direct or indirect loss or damage or any other consequence of any person acting or not acting in reliance on the information contained here. Nothing in this material constitutes investment, legal, accounting, tax, or other advice, or a representation that any investment or strategy is suitable or appropriate to your individual circumstances, or otherwise constitutes a personal recommendation to you. Manulife Private Wealth does not provide legal or tax advice, and you are encouraged to consult your own lawyer, accountant, or other advisors before making any financial decision. Prospective investors should take appropriate professional advice before making any investment decisions. All opinions expressed were obtained from sources believed to be reliable and in good faith; no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to its accuracy or completeness. The information in this material may contain projections or other forward-looking statements regarding future events, targets, management discipline, or other expectations, and is only as current as of the date indicated. The information in this document, including statements concerning financial market trends, are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. Manulife Private Wealth disclaims any responsibility to update such information. Should you have any questions, please contact or ask to speak to a member of Manulife Private Wealth.

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Manulife Private Wealth

Manulife Private Wealth

Manulife Private Wealth

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