If you constantly struggle with some particular financial challenge, I can understand why you’d want to throw in the towel sooner or later.
Think about trying to lose weight, improve your credit score or increase your retirement savings and investments. Do you know why there are so many books on these subjects? It’s because the “lose weight fast,” “get a better credit score” and “save for retirement” books don’t work.
You buy a good book. You read it and you are still overweight. You still need to get out of credit card debt. And you still have bad credit. What do you do? Buy another book, of course, hoping against hope that the next one is the “silver bullet.”
The good news is, you don’t have to buy any more diet or get-out-of-debt books. And it gets better. When you realize the failure of these books, it will ultimately be the ticket you need to succeed.
So what is the secret to success in dieting, getting out of debt and making better investments? The secret is to know you’re going to blow it.
Last time I checked, we’re all still human. As such, we’re not perfect. But when you set out on a “get-out-of-debt” plan, you might expect perfection and immediate results. And that is the root problem. Why? Because once you slip up, you’re more likely than not to give up.
But if you build mistakes and mini-failures into your plan, you have a much better chance of getting back on the saddle and continuing on your path.
Think about taking a road trip from Los Angeles to Chicago. You’re having a wonderful trip when suddenly you get a flat tire in Lubbock, Texas. All you have to do is get out and change that tire. You don’t have to start back from Los Angeles. And you’re not stuck in Lubbock.
Let’s take an example. Say you’ve struggled with tracking your spending for years. You start and stop more often they raise the debt ceiling in D.C. You’ve been repeating this pattern for the last 10 years. This time, you promise yourself and your spouse that you’re going to stick to it no matter what.
You’ve “trained” for 10 years to start and stop the process. You’re really good at that and it’s going to take a lot of work to learn new behavior patterns. Give yourself some slack when you stop tracking your expenses. You haven’t failed mankind. You’re not going to the Hague to stand trial for war crimes. And it’s easy to get back on track – especially if you use budget tracking software. Just set aside some time to work on your budget and get your software up to date. No big deal.
Remember, when you embark upon a journey of financial repair, one mistake doesn’t mean complete failure. Remember, you’re human. All of us blow it from time to time.
When you embark upon a great personal journey like improving your credit score, getting out of debt or losing weight, keep this in mind: expect flat tires.
When you hit a pothole, don’t tell yourself it’s the end of the world. Remind yourself that you were expecting these issues and get right back up and on your way. Build into your plan the reality that you’re going to blow it, but don’t ever use that as an excuse to beat yourself up.
What are the greatest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered on your financial journey? How do you overcome those challenges?