Okay, I’m back from feeling sorry for myself and back on focusing on these money goals. I just thought I’d share my struggles as well as victories so I can paint a more realistic picture of what the road to financial independence is like. Sometimes I feel like I’m an addict, binging on spending sprees then later dealing with the regret and shame. Discipline is tough to maintain. But a few things happened to turn my mood around. And now I feel grateful for the doubt and defeat I felt last week because it forced me to do some much needed soul searching. I thought I would share a few realizations I came across as I was trying to make sense of why I can’t kick my habits and stay on track with my goals.
First, the updates:
-I rented out my spare bedroom a lot sooner than I thought I would. This is really awesome because it means that I can get started on paying down debt a lot sooner than I initially planned. Yay!
-I’m starting to get interviews and call backs from the jobs I applied to, Its only a matter of time before I find a new opportunity for professional development and increased income.
-I started advertising my real estate business aggressively and have received a few calls from buyers that are interested in hiring me. Grant it, they haven’t been pre approved for a loan but that’s something that I could help them with.
Now, the lessons:
-The road to self improvement be it financially, emotionally, intellectually or spiritually, is a series of sprints and NOT a marathon. I know that a lot of people think its the other way around so let me explain what I mean. For the past couple of years, I have focused heavily on paying off my credit cards, student loans, car notes etc and planned out each dollar meticulously. The idea was to stick to the plan no matter what. Resist the urge to take a break for fear of falling behind or off track . My plans pretty much disintegrated when they were put into action. That’s because I never took into account the toll this much pressure to get rid of debt could take on my willpower and motivation. I couldn’t marathon through to debt payoff because I did not include ways in which I was going to be able to get re-energized. I just thought that I’ll keep finding motivation that can sustain me along the way. While there were many encouraging signs that I was well on my way, they weren’t enough to maintain my enthusiasm. And so I kept getting off track.
What I really needed to do was treat this like a series of sprints. What I mean is that I should have created plans for short bursts of debt payoff efforts and included time in between each completed objective to process the accomplishment. Doing this would have made the task seem less overwhelming and thus less demotivating. Thinking of my journey to financial independence as one long endless marathon with no end in sight caused me to struggle to stay committed. One part of me always said “why bother? You’re not going to get there anyway.” It was easier to believe this part when there’s no end in sight. But if I am able to see the finish line (excuse the extended metaphor, its just the way I’m thinking of it in my mind), I would be able to resist the urge to just quit and go back to spending like I used to.
-Take time to process your accomplishments and pat yourself on the back. Its true, we are our own worst critics. We think of ourselves as super humans, capable of tackling the biggest and baddest of struggles and come out victorious and unscathed. When we face the reality and get our asses handed to us time and time again, we start to take it to mean that we are worthless and incapable of doing anything. The reality probably is that we were ill prepared for the task we set ourselves to and need to try again with more preparation and understanding. I paid off close to $17000 in student loan debt, bought a car paid off 90% of the loan and purchased two condos in a manner of two years. Yet when I reverted back a little into my credit card debt, I completely devalued my accomplishments and thought of myself as incapable of working hard for anything. I think its time I acknowledge my humanity, celebrate my accomplishment and let myself feel victorious for a little bit.
With this in mind, I will recreate my plans and continue to tackle this debt once and for all. I’m going to apply my own version of the snowball method and develop other ways to maximize the impact my money and effort is going to have. I’ll provide details once I’ve come up with it.