I’m guessing that if you read my site, or you’re reading this post right now, for that matter, that you probably have some goals. They may be financial goals. They may be health goals (oddly enough, those who have financial goals also tend to have health goals). No matter what your goals are, they require taking certain steps to get there.
This isn’t a post about setting steps and little milestones to get to your overall goals though. This is a post about actually doing those individual steps, and how to feel better about the more difficult steps that are required along the way.
For example, when I first started to really take a look at my finances, I realized that the money I spent on going out, getting fast food, buying beer, and other “social” activities was way more than I thought it was. So, I decided to put a cap on what I spent every month on this sort of thing.
At first it went okay, but slowly I started to get tired of having to keep track of it all and having to decline invitations to go out and do things more than I used to (actually, I never used to decline invitations at all).
Pretty soon all I did was concentrate on the things that my new-found frugalness kept me from doing.
It started to put me in a really bad mood.
That bad mood changed when I started looking at things a little differently. Instead of concentrating on the things that I couldn’t do, I concentrated on the positive, namely, the amount of money I was saving, and the good use I put that money to (paying off debt).
Very slowly, I started to look at not going out differently. Soon I was glad to stay in more than I used to, because I knew that it was actually good for me, and that I was going to be better off for it. Now don’t start thinking I turned into some weird homebody that sat in a dark room and played videogames all day. I still went out and spent money on some of the things I used to, I had just simply cut down a bit and planned my weeks out better.
Another example involves my diet. When I first began to get serious about working out, I changed my diet. No more fast food, no more buying junk food at the grocery store… it was grilled chicken breasts, rice, vegetables, and whey protein powder for me.
Same story. While it was new, it was okay, then it got a little old, and then it just started making me mad.
Luckily, this issue also had the same solution. Instead of concentrating on what I couldn’t do, I concentrated on the fact that what I was doing was making me better. With every protein shake I drank I gave my body the raw material it needed to make muscle. Every meal of chicken and rice I ate replaced one more meal that would have been full of sugar, fat, and god knows what else that would have taken me in the opposite direction from my goal.
By concentrating on the good parts of doing what’s required to reach your goals instead of the bad parts, it becomes easier to do what you need to do. Eventually, I started to view fast food and other food that tastes amazing but is full of fat as bad, and the chicken and rice and the protein shakes as good. Eventually, dropping lots of money at a bar on a Friday or Saturday night began to seem less appealing than saving that cash so I could pay off my debt (plus by going this route there were no hangovers the next day).
So this week, I want to you quit fighting yourself. Tell yourself over and over that the diet you're on is for your own good. Tell yourself over and over that by not purchasing an expensive car, you've just allowed yourself to retire a year earlier due to all the money you'll save. Look at the things you have to do to reach your goals not as bad things, but as things that will get you where you want to be.
Tips to stay focused on the week’s concept:
1. Write the week’s concept down on a post-it or a scrap piece of paper and post it somewhere you will see it on a daily basis, such as your fridge, the bathroom mirror, or even the dashboard of your car (people who ride with you think it’s weird, but it works!). The point is to be reminded of the theme often throughout the day.
2. Each night before bed, brainstorm two or three ways to apply the week’s theme, and jot them down in a notebook, in your planner, or E-Mail them to your office E-mail address. Then, actually apply them the next day.
3. In the morning before your day begins, take a moment to think about the weekly concept and how you will apply it throughout your day.
4. Every night, reflect on how you actually implemented the weekly concept and how it has positively changed your way of thinking or behavior.
5. During lunch or sometime half-way through your day, take a moment to sit in a quiet place and re-commit, reminding yourself to view the rest of the day through the lens of the concept of the week.