Research shows increase in setting goals

Research shows that goal setting correlates to positive outcomes—and more Americans are setting financial goals.

Goal setting drives positive outcomes

Much of our research has demonstrated a connection between financial goal setting and positive outcomes. Participants who set goals save more.1

  • Participants who set a retirement savings goal are 3x more likely to contribute 15%+.
  • Participants who set a savings goal other than retirement have an almost 2x higher median deferral rate.
  • Participants who set a debt payment goal for the year are almost 2x more likely to contribute 15%.

More Americans are setting financial goals

The good news is more Americans are setting financial goals. 38% of U.S. adults surveyed said they have specific financial goals for 2020.1 In comparison, just 29% said they had specific financial goals for 2019.2

Do you/did you have specific financial goals?

Among all U.S. adults

For 2020: Specific goals 38%, Rough idea 44%, No goals 18%. For 2019: Specific goals 29%, Rough idea 46%, No goals 26%.


As we’ve seen in other research, millennials continue to be the generation most likely to set financial goals. 51% of millennials and 47% of Gen Z say they have specific financial goals for 2020, compared to 40% of Gen X, and 27% of baby boomers.3 Who are the goal setters among your employees?

Target those with a rough idea

A majority of respondents said they have a rough idea of what they want to achieve financially in the coming year, but have no specific goals. 44% of Americans surveyed in 2020 fall into this category. These individuals have taken the first step toward goal setting. They’ve spent time thinking about what they hope to achieve. However, they haven’t set specific goals. You have an opportunity to reach these potential goal setters and help them craft specific, measurable, and achievable goals.

Provide goal-setting tools and resources

Let’s help both the Americans who are already setting specific goals and those who need help pinpointing what they want to achieve. Lincoln provides tools and resources to set goals, measure progress, and help stay on track.

Lincoln WellnessPATH®, our online financial wellness tool, offers robust tools for setting goals and boosting overall financial health:

  • Goal setting. Participants set financial goals, receive personalized action steps to help achieve them, and monitor their progress.

  • Budgeting. A powerful budgeting tool helps participants manage spending and saving, and even find extra money for financial goals.

  • Account aggregation. Participants can pull in outside information, such as checking accounts or student loans, to get a complete picture and help manage their financial lives.

The majority of Americans have already set financial goals or are thinking about it. Encourage this positive step to help boost retirement readiness.

1 Personal Finance Pulse, Lincoln Financial and CivicScience, 2020.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.