Smart Quiz: When You’re Discouraged About Finances, What Helps the Most?
- Save More
- Spend Some
- Make a Plan
- Set Goals
Answer: Set Goals
From the kid with a $5 allowance to the retiree who dreams of spending their winters on a cruise ship, feeling discouraged about finances is real. It causes a deep sense of depletion, exhaustion and often self-doubt.
Fortunately, with a simple goal setting exercise, feeling discouraged can give way to feeling hope and empowerment at any age. That’s what we’re all about at Financial Health Network. Read on to see how you can turn feelings of discouragement into positive actions for a better life.
It’s All About “The Why”
Typical motivation is like a “push” from behind that comes and goes. When the push goes away, so does the motivation. However, the right motivation feels like a constant “pull” towards a better life. It’s called “the why” and it’s the key to getting through anything, obliterating obstacles and making the doldrums and challenges well worth it.
For some, becoming debt-free may be a goal, but it’s a having a personal, gut deep “why” you want to be debt free that is the true motivator to get you there. Is it really a general “peace-of-mind” or “security” that debt freedom would give you? Or is something far more personal like being debt free will create the time and money to be able to live close to your children or grandchildren or keep the house that means so much to you. When you figure out your “why” there is not much that can stop you.
When a person is striving to lose weight, a coach often suggests displaying photos of healthy lifestyles in action, images that bring to mind fitness, promote health, inspire wellness and strength. Do the same with financial goals. What’s the why? What pictures bring the why to mind? Pin those, put them up on the refrigerator, think of them often.
Support is powerful, especially when planning financial decisions or making financial preparations. Share the ideas with a supportive listener. Plan together. If travel is one financial goal, rent books and DVDs from the library on desirable destinations. If early retirement is the goal, list pastimes, hobbies and ways of donating time to causes that matter personally.
While keeping the “why” in mind, you’ll also want to enjoy small success as you take steps to achieve your goals. Here’s how to take action that will make you feel good about your goals on a regular basis, while keeping your eye on the prize.
- Create a Goal Planner: This can something as simple as a notebook. It can even include more than one goal. This is where you break down how to meet your goal(s).
- Pick a Target Date: When do you want to meet your goal? This is a crucial part of the process, as it is the one that sets the parameters for all the steps that follow.
- Divide the Calendar: You’ve picked a date. Now you need to figure out how far away that is. How many months or weeks do you have?
- Plan Chunks of Time: Whether you plan by the month, week or day, it’s time to set short term goals to meet your one big end goal. When you settle on your chunk of time, break your goals down into their simplest forms, so that you can possibly even take steps forward on a daily basis.
- Celebrate Success: Maybe your goal was to save $100 in a month. You put away $25 each week, and you were able to do that by selling $5 items on eBay. You’ll benefit from celebrating every step. Listed a new item? That step may not have brought in any cash, but it was a necessary step along the way, so it earned a pat on the back.
Wondering if the sacrifices and self-denial are worth it is natural. Often, questioning one’s path comes from exhaustion. Rest, go for a walk, think about the small steps you’ve already taken toward your goals. Those simple steps can often reset, replenish and remind us of our goals.
Enthusiasm and passion for the project of saving for goals will come and go if you haven’t fully embodied “why” you’re really doing it. The objective reality is that if you stay with your plan, it can be done and it will have been worth doing! Life can be vibrant and full, even on a budget, one day at a time, one goal at a time!
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!