“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
It’s almost the end of January, the point in the year where for many of us, all the resolutions we made with such enthusiasm 30 days ago have either been abandoned or are fading rapidly. It’s become so commonplace not to follow through with our good intentions that many people have stopped making resolutions altogether and those that do, accept that not following through with them beyond the second week of January is pretty much par for the course. The trouble with resolutions is that they tend to be an intention rather than a definite commitment to action. We recognize that we need to make a change, we have the enthusiasm to start on the path towards that change but somewhere along the way, usually within the first week, we start to lose momentum and we drift back into the space we were in before. This is especially true with money. We start the year with good intentions but it doesn’t take long for us to fall back into the ‘comfortable discomfort’ of our original situation. So, if we’re serious about making the change, what can we do differently to increase our chances of success?
Be Clear About Your Goals
The difference between financial resolutions and financial goals is that resolutions tend to be simply intentions for action whereas goals are commitments to action. By taking the time to ensure our financial goals are S.M.A.R.T., written down (preferably somewhere we can see them) and have a clearly defined action plan attached to them we dramatically increase our chances of success.
Related article: Setting S.M.A.R.T Financial Goals
Know Your Motivator
All of us are motivated by different things. Some people want to build financial security to protect their family, some people want the time freedom that comes with not relying on their 9-5 to pay their bills, some people want to use their wealth to benefit causes that are important to them. Some of us just want the peace of mind that comes from finally being debt-free. Whatever your goal, take the time to think about why you want to achieve it and focus particularly on how it will feel when you attain it. That feeling is what will keep you on track when you get discouraged and motivate you to keep going.
Related article: What is your financial motivator?
No matter what your goal there will be people around you who don’t believe in it. At the end of the day though it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks; all that truly matters is that you believe in your goal and also in your ability to achieve it. Goals are very personal things; what drives you won’t be the same as what drives someone else and so your dreams don’t have to match anyone else’s vision except your own. If you believe in your goal, if you know what is driving you to achieve it and you believe that you can achieve it then there isn’t an obstacle big enough to stop you getting there. Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield, the authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, were turned down by 144 publishers before they found someone who said yes to their first book. James Dyson created 5127 versions of his Dyson vacuum cleaner before developing the one he considered perfect for production. Edison failed thousands of times before he finally created a light bulb that worked the way he wanted it to. All of them persisted because they believed in their goal and their ability to succeed and in the end all of them were successful.
Related article: Do you BELIEVE you can be wealthy?
Taking the first step towards a goal is an essential part of your success but even more important is to keep moving. Remind yourself every day of your goal and why you want to achieve it and then do just one thing that moves you closer to reaching it. Some days the steps will be larger and more significant than others but every step you take is important. Each day the movement becomes a stronger habit and every step you take makes it easier to keep going. Keep your eyes on your end goal but be sure to celebrate every step of the journey; not only will it keep you motivated but you’ll inspire those around you too. Whether you’re working to eliminate debt, change your spending habits, simplify your life or reach a significant savings goal do something every day that takes you closer to achieving it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly those small steps add up to become a big leap towards reaching your goal. Take some time this week to consider what you want your life to look like at the end of this year.
What can you do today that will take you one step closer to being there?