Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.
"I want to get out of debt...I want to get out of debt," you repeat to yourself. This is a mantra that you wake up to each morning, go to bed with each night, and are pensive over every day. "I don't want any more bills...I don't want any more bills," is the accompanying harmony.
But according to the law of attraction, all the universe hears is "debt" and "bills." So what do you ultimately end up with? Continuous debt and a mounting pile of bills.
Setting a financial goal like getting out of debt is lackluster, at best. Yes, you'll be incredibly happy to release yourself of the burden of debt, but really - you are simply bringing yourself back to ground zero. This is hardly inspirational.
The Debt Cycle
A friend of mine is drowning in debt, and desperate to get out of it. His goal is just that: to be debt free. So he works like a dog, lives like a monk, and vigilantly dedicates every penny he has towards debt payments. He even admits that he is punishing himself (in a way) for being in debt by denying himself everything in the name of getting out of the hole.
So what happens? After a short spell of self-punishment, he can't stand it any more and he splurges. Having lost the will to live and figuring he'll never get out of debt anyway, he decides life is too short and treats himself to an expensive dinner. In so doing, he backtracks and ends up making little (if any) headway on his debt.
Negative versus Positive Goals
So it stands to reason that simply getting out of debt isn't a financial goal that is easily achievable. Why? Because it's boring. Getting to the point where you have no money (granted, you also owe nothing) is hardly exciting. If the prize at the end of the road isn't enticing enough, we never get there.
Instead, shoot for something better than being out of debt. Something positive. Something that makes you sing. Something with an accompanying image (ideally one you can quantify and keep in regular view, like on a vision board).
Instead of making your goal to get out of debt, make it bigger: for example, to have the down payment for a house. Yes it's considerably loftier than simply being out of debt, but now the finish line is way more productive and enticing. You see yourself in your new house and in a new stage of life; suddenly having a $0 balance in your account is only half the battle and not the end-game. You stand a much better chance of achieving financial goals by aiming for the stars and hitting the moon.
Admittedly, don't take this theory too far. Setting a goal that is ludicrously unachievable ("I want my own amusement park!") isn't realistic enough for you to keep your eye on the ball; you'll get distracted and say, "There's no way I could get there anyway, so why bother trying?" You know what you can achieve that is ultimately doable, yet larger than your initial goal.
Rewarding Yourself Along the Way
The other trick to setting financial goals you will achieve is to reward yourself along the way. Although some people can keep their head down and nose to the grindstone in the name of achieving a financial goal, most of us need to treat ourselves from time to time. If we set milestones and specific rewards upon achieving each milestone, we can tackle our financial goals in bite-sized pieces.
Although the reward is slightly counterproductive to the ultimate goal, having balance in our lives is much healthier and helps us stand a chance of staying in for the long haul. As long as the rewards are reasonable (and you'll know what that means in the context of your lifestyle, goals, and cash flow), it will actually be more productive than not.
It pays to dream big. No millionaire got to where they are by setting moderate goals. They had vision, they had guts, and they set big goals. With a big financial goal, a dash of balance, and rewards along the way, you'll be amazed at what you can achieve.
Balancing the Needs of Tomorrow with the Desires of Today
Bit by Bit or Not at All
5 Easy steps to Accomplish your Goals
Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under Life Balance. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions while constantly balancing life and her location independent work on the road. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated CareOne Blogger.
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This is great advice! My wife and I have set a goal that we want to take a vacation to Hawaii.....all paid for in CASH. That definitely seems like a fun goal to me....
@tpizel - Great stuff! Have you made the goal quantitative by setting a timeline for it as well?
"'Tis the season of lagging resolutions and best intentions!" Are you going to be able to keep up with your New Year's resolutions? If you cannot, there may be more at play than just a lack of willpower. The trick is how to set your goals for the year