“Imagine that your life is a boat and you’re the captain. Five years from now you’ll be somewhere, whether you do something or not. So your choice is this; do you trust the tide to carry you on your journey and risk that five years from now you’ll be sitting in the same safe harbor or do you decide on a destination, chart your course and set sail?” – Jim Rohn
Just because we know something is good for us doesn’t mean that we’re going to do it. Often the things that are good for us are nowhere near as much fun as the things that aren’t and familiar habits, whether they serve us or not, are more comfortable than the process of adopting new ones.
Whenever I sit down with clients they usually have at least an inkling of the habits that they need to alter or where they’re spending money that could be better purposed for something else but knowing where you’re going off track isn’t enough. If you don’t have an understanding of why you’re off track and you don’t have a desire to make a change it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have, you’ll continue on the same path.
Even though it seems illogical to repeat behaviour that is proven not to get us where we want to go, the reality is that there is a lot of comfort in discomfort. Familiar situations are safe because they're predictable and too often it’s just easier to stick with what we know even if the situation is actually hindering our goal of achieving success. The basic principles of financial success aren’t complicated;
Often we make managing our money far more difficult than it needs to be in order to keep ourselves on familiar ground. Luckily it’s not that hard to get on track once you set your mind to it; the challenge lies in making the decision to do just that.
Set a Goal
Whether it’s finances, our career or just life in general, it's proven that we'll achieve a lot more if we have a goal. Setting goals allows you to identify what’s important to you, define what you want to achieve and put a plan in place to achieve it. Financial goals are just like any other goal; you need to know what it is you want to achieve, you need to know why you want to achieve it and then you need to develop a plan that will get you there.
Related article: Setting Goals and Priorities
Often we procrastinate when it comes to setting goals but no matter how many reasons we give ourselves for why now is not the right time to start, it all boils down to the same thing; we are comfortable in our current situation and setting a goal will force us out of that comfort zone and out into the unfamiliarity of a growth zone. Sometimes we get so caught up in money-related stress that it can be hard to take a step back and trust that achieving our goal is actually possible. Sometimes we get complacent because things are going well for us financially and it can be tough to acknowledge that, even though we’re doing well, there are opportunities for us to do better. The reality though, is that without a goal we’ll just drift and so we owe it to ourselves to decide on a destination and to chart ourselves a route to get there.
Having a clearly defined goal with an action plan isn’t enough; money is very much a psychological thing and our attitude to and beliefs about money play a huge role in whether or not we achieve success. For every goal you set you need to understand your motivator and also to anticipate the obstacles that are likely to get in the way of you achieving what you set out to. Understanding why we do what we do helps us figure out how to abandon the beliefs and habits that don’t serve us and inspires us to adopt new ones that do. If you’re sabotaging your goals, there’s a reason for it and it’s usually something to do with fear or the fact that achieving your goal will conflict with some long-held belief that your conscious mind isn’t even aware of anymore. Your brain is hard-wired to protect you from pain. This is a good thing when you’re a little too close to a hot stove but nowhere near as good when it’s protecting you from the possible pain of the unfamiliar by holding you back from stepping outside of your comfort zone!
This week, why not take a look at your current situation and then take a look at where it is you want to go. Identify the habits that will help you achieve your goal and the habits or beliefs that are holding you back. Try to figure out what it is that drives those unhelpful habits and beliefs and then come up with a plan to abandon them and replace them with something more useful. Spring is traditionally a season of new beginnings so it’s the perfect time to focus on your dreams, inject some fresh energy into your goals and get yourself firmly on the path to achieving financial success.