Goals, Motivation

A Fresh Start

It’s almost May, which means that one-third of the year 2009 is gone!  I don’t know about you, but time seems to have flown by, and it seems like only days ago, I was writing down my 2009 resolutions.  (Remember those?  Yeah, that’s that pesky list of things we promised we would do in 2009.  I wonder what percentage of folks will actually follow through and do something about their resolutions.  40%?  20%? 5%?)

If you are like me, you probably have motivational highs and lows.  One day, you are really in to saving money and getting out of debt, the next you are looking at a new set of golf clubs, trying to justify an unnecessary (but really cool!) purchase.  (Confession time – As I type this article, I have another browser-tab open to golfsmith, where I am looking at a sweet new set of Cleveland irons.  A man can dream.)

So, what can you do you do, if like me, you are prone to get off task and lose your motivation?  Well, since I’m pretty much an expert at the do-over, I’ll share.

  1. Stop beating yourself up.
  2. Remember your original goals / plans / motivations.
  3. Balance your checkbook.
  4. Recalculate the time it will take to get out of debt / meet savings goal / etc.
  5. Find community.

1.  Stop beating yourself up.

It’s easy to feel like you are the “only one” who has ever failed.  The truth is, lots of people fail when it comes to money management  (Have you read the financial section of the newspaper in the last, oh, two years?  Oh, that’s right, in many places, you can no longer buy a newspaper.  See, lots of people fail when it comes to money management!)  Also, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  If you are reading this article, you probably have more financial resources than 75% of the people on this planet.  Instead, regroup and get ready to move forward.  (Interestingly, I was in a financial funk around this time last year.  Click here to read more about how I regained my focus and moved forward.)

2.  Remember your original goals / plans / motivations.

For me, it all comes back to family.  I’m doing “this” so that my family can be secure and so that my wife and I can (one day) enjoy a happy retirement.  When you get offtrack, it’s always important to re-visualize (is that a word?) your original plans and and goals.  Think about how wonderful it will feel to finally pay off that last credit card.  (High-five to Trishia from Blogging Away Debt.  You rock!)

3.  Balance your checkbook.

I know it sounds a little silly, but when you have been struggling, it feels good to get back to basics.  And nothing is more basic than balancing the checkbook.  As soon as you do that, you’ll then be able to move on, and take a new look at your budget, check your savings account balance, and begin to focus on your retirement investments.  Start simple, get everything “in balance” and then move to the next, more complicated tasks.

4.  Recalculate the time it will take to get out of debt / meet savings goal / etc.

I love to use the financial calculators over at dinkytown.  Spend some time with their 350+ calculators, and you’ll be re-energized.  I know, I know.  It can be depressing to know that your original goal / timetable was too aggressive.  And it can be frustrating, dealing with an emergency or financial setback.  Do not compound your difficulties by wallowing in your frustrations.  Do some calculations, get the problem “out of your head” and “on to paper”.

5.  Find community.

We all need accountability and encouragement.  I find both from folks in my church, and from the world of friends that I have online.  In fact, that’s why I started this site.  (Can you believe I’ve been doing this for FOUR years?  Wowsers.)  You need to find someone, or some group of people, who can and will encourage you.  Also, it never hurts to tell a trusted friend or two that you are “on a budget” or that you are “saving money”.  (Alert – There are some people who will think you are crazy for giving up your credit cards or skipping vacation.  Ignore and avoid these people.)  Also, it’s super awesome if you can get your entire family – every person who lives in your house and is able – to pitch in an do their part.  Remember, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto!  Find someone with whom you can share your story, and enjoy their support.  When you get down, give them a call.  (Oh, yeah.  Here’s a list of sites that can connect you with a world of folks who write about personal finance.  You are sure to connect with a few like-minded new friends.)

Tomorrow, we’ll put some “meat on these bones” and see if we can’t flesh-out some more practical steps to take when we are starting over.  In the meantime, take a look back and see if you are meeting your 2009 resolutions.  Leave a comment, and let us know.  Were you overly-optimistic?  Are you doing better than you thought you might do?  Any tips?  Struggles?  We’d love to hear from you.  Rock on.

6 thoughts on “A Fresh Start

  1. The resolutions I made in January are posted on the refrigerator and on the bulletin board in the office. I did great in the beginning! But in the last month, I got WWWAAAYYY off track. I didn’t use any credit (thanks God), but boy did I spend some money on vacation! So, okay. It is done. Regroup. Take the hit. Get back on the horse. I balanced my checkbook, looked at how much money I needed to “repay myself”, and came up with a plan. I looked at the next goal on the list and started planning how to get there. I’m now in the routine again. Heck, I’m still better than I used to be!

  2. Wow, you really did a good job by reminding my goals that I have set in the early 2009.

    Well, I would add 1 more step: Find someone to monitor us

    Since we fail to achieve what we plan to then we need someone to help us to monitor us so that we always on the right track to get what we want.

    If possible this person must be someone who can control you and you can’t reject his/her commands, maybe your spouse? 🙂

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