I really enjoy playing golf.Â I try to play once or twice a month, and if I had more time and money, I would play more.Â I am a pretty decent striker of the ball, but I do have one swing fault with which I constantly struggle.Â I find it hard to follow through and really finish my swing.Â The club, instead of finishing high and above my left shoulder will get stuck, and I’ll either block shots to the right or pull-hook them to the left.Â I’m always working to correct this swing fault.
Not only is it important to follow through when swinging a golf club, it’s also important to follow through when managing our personal finances.Â How many times have I set out, with good intentions, only to fail to actually implement those intentions?Â I’d rather have a B- plan coupled with A+ effort than an A+ plan coupled with D- effort.
I wrote several articles last week about setting goals.Â Today, I want us to think about follow through – actually taking those goals and making them our reality.Â As a rule, I’m a details person.Â I like to be thorough when tackling a challenge.Â There’s just one problem that I – and people like me – face.Â We get stuck.Â We work really, really hard to create our plans and organize our systems, but then we fail to follow through.Â Sure, it’s easy to pay off debt – on paper.Â It’s easy to save up for retirement – on paper.Â And it’s easy to plan for college – on paper.Â The real challenge, the real hard part, is doing the actual work.
For those of you who follow with follow through, here are some tips and tricks that I use to keep myself on track.
Simplify – I know it’s hard, but try to whittle down those forty seven goals and plans into one or two manageable tasks.Â Remember, perfection is the enemy of progress.
Rapid Organization – Take twenty minutes, right now, and get rid of the clutter on your desk, that pile of papers near the microwave, or that list of emails in your inbox.Â For those of us who struggle to complete tasks, it’s good to take fifteen or twenty minutes and just bull-rush through as many tasks as is possible.
Accountability – Find someone who can hold you accountable.Â I have several friends, and a world of blog readers, who hold me accountable.Â You need someone, at least one person, who can ask how your progress is going.
Rewards – Go ahead and reward yourself once you have accomplished a task.Â Promise yourself a nap, or a movie, or a round of golf, but only after you have completed the tasks that need to be completed.
List – This one really helps me.Â When I have several personal finance related matters to take care of, say filing taxes, balancing the checkbook, and filing documents, I’ll list them, putting them in order of priority.Â Just having this list, on hand, really helps me clear my mind a focus.Â For instance, a few years ago, I knew that my wife and I needed to write our wills.Â I kept putting this off, until one day I created a list of all the things that I needed to do.Â Create a will was at the top of my list.Â So, that day, I picked up the phone, called my lawyer, and scheduled an appointment.Â A few weeks later, our wills were complete, and I was able to mark that off of my list.Â It felt good to get something done.
Inspiration – For me, I get inspired by the success of others.Â That’s why I read several hundred blogs a month.Â If you are feeling down or depressed, because you’ve failed to follow through, go back to the original source of inspiration, and get fired up again!Â I love the do-over.Â Instead of wallowing in should-have, get inspired and move forward.