My free weight loss program is still working. Besides losing weight, I’m actually reaping other benefits too.
What was the plan?
I don’t eat anything before 9 A.M. I don’t eat lunch before 1 P.M. And I don’t eat anything after 6 P.M.
Down six pounds over the last 30 days. Not miraculous for most people. But I’ve been trying to shed some weight for the last several years with no luck. This is the first time I’ve made any progress, so I’m happy.
Of course the story doesn’t end there. I’ve learned a lot over the last month, and I believe the lessons are directly applicable to personal finance:
1. Don’t expect perfection.
My food plan also called for no sweets or bread. I realized that these two delicacies were the landmines that kept blowing up in my (fat) face…that’s why I cut them out. It made sense to quarantine these items, but it was unreasonable to expect I could go cold turkey. I couldn’t.
How is this applicable in the financial world?
Let’s say you don’t know how to stop spending money and it’s gone on for years. Is it reasonable to expect that you’ll be able to stop that behavior all by yourself overnight? Maybe if you’re sedated. Otherwise, expect challenges.
You just might fall back into old patterns. Don’t take that as a sign of failure. It’s just a sign of your humanity. Get back on your spending plan as soon as possible if you fall off the wagon.
2. Be willing to adapt.
I quickly realized that it was too difficult to swear off certain foods forever or to adhere to my “time diet” 100% of the time. I amended the plan and gave myself a relief valve. I allow myself to enjoy a little slack. Whew…
How would you apply this to personal finance?
Let’s go back to overspending. Of course you should take decisive action and cut spending. But leave yourself a certain amount every week to spend however you want. Throw it down the toilet if you want. Whatever floats your boat.
This way, you won’t feel deprived and you’ll stick to your plan. Another great way to adapt and change your behavior is to start using a budgeting tracking program like You Need A Budget.
3. Demand daily success.
Once I adapted my plan to something I could really live with, I was able to stick with it. Sure, the plan became less demanding, and that meant the results would take longer to see. But I stuck with the watered-down version rather than dumping the plan altogether. As I stuck to my plan, I strung successes together. Sweet-akimbo!
Use this same tactic in your financial life. What can you do to have a success today? Is it writing down what your expenses are? Should you pay down your mortgage? Investigate. What can you do today to put a feather in your cap?
4. Notice the other benefits you weren’t expecting.
Once I stopped spending money on Ding-Dongs and Sugar Twists, I noticed that I was saving money and losing a little weight. Also, since I was losing weight, I gained a lot of time. I didn’t have to work out so much. That’s very nice of course. But the real payoff was that I felt hopeful in a very new and powerful way. I felt encouraged.
I believe that simply having faith, hope and a positive outlook, coupled with action that has positive results, is key. This combination will help you stay on the path to success – with your diet and with your dollars.
I can’t predict how much weight I’ll lose over the next month, but I do feel hopeful and I do promise to check in with you.
What successes have you racked up in one area and applied towards some other issue you face? Do you believe that you should “adjust” your food or financial plan over time? Is it a smart thing to do or simply a cop-out? What’s been your experience? Do you think that gaining ground in one area of your life could even help someone fix a marriage?