It’s easy to get derailed in the process of managing your money wisely. Here are five tips to help boost your chances of financial success.
1. Make it a habit
Science has proven that consistent repetition will create a habit. Whether you’re creating a good one or a bad one, the process is the same: repeat the same action time after time and it will become a habit. Money is no different – some of our actions create bad habits while others create good ones. If we’ve got into a habit of letting our finances “run wild” then it takes time to break that and replace it with the habit of taking control of our money. However, if we’re willing to invest a little effort and discipline ourselves to track our spending and use a money management system then, it will take a lot less effort and discipline. It will have become just another part of our day to day – like taking out the garbage or picking up groceries. Once it’s a habit then, over time, your financial health will start to dramatically improve
2. Track your progress
Once you set a goal and create a plan to get you there, it’s important to check-in once in a while to make sure that you’re on track. Break down your goal journey into ‘milestones’ (perhaps a certain amount paid off your debt or a certain amount saved) and set a realistic time frame for when you’ll achieve them. For example, if you’re trying to pay off a $3,000 credit card by paying an extra $200/month then, depending on the interest rate, it’s going to take you about 15 months to get there. This means that, after 5 months, you should have a balance of less than $2,000 and after 10 months it should be less than $1,000. By establishing these milestones, it makes it easy to gauge whether you’re on track to achieving your goal or not and whether or not you need to make any changes to your plan to get where you want to go.
Tracking your progress doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get derailed, but it will help you figure out whether you’re on the right path and get you back on track if you “drift”.
3. Be flexible
Sometimes we set goals that are too aggressive or life throws a curve ball that makes our goal less achievable or less of a priority. If your money plan isn’t working out the way you wanted it to, don’t be discouraged. Just take a step back, evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and then try to figure out what’s sending you off track. Once you’ve figured out the cause, you can invest some energy in coming up with a solution, re-working the plan in a way that puts you back on track for success.
Remember that, often, when we start on a new path, we’re working a lot on instinct, estimates and assumptions. Sometimes we’re dead on, sometimes we’re not. If things aren’t working, it’s not a sign that you need to quit. Fix the root cause and you’ll not only be back on track, you’ll also have learned how to overcome a certain obstacle and reduced the chances that it will trip you up again.
4. Build a tribe
It’s said that we’re the sum of the five people that we spend the most time with. Making sure those five people are on board with your goals and are supportive of you in trying to achieve them is critically important to your success. As human beings, we’re not designed to function alone; we do best when we’re part of a community. Instinctively, we try to find a community where we fit and not where we stand alone. When your goals mesh with those of the community, you’ll be more motivated and successful. When your goals conflict with the goals of your community, you’re more likely to get discouraged and give up. Therefore, surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals or who have already accomplished what you’re working towards can be powerful when it comes to helping you achieve your goals and work your plan.
Too often we spend time focusing on what we still have left to do rather than taking the time to focus on what we’ve already accomplished. It can take a while to accomplish your goals and there will be times when you’re tempted to quit or slack off a little. Celebrating each ‘milestone’ along the way will help reinforce the idea that you’re making progress, motivating you to keep going. Celebrating with your ‘tribe’ is also incredibly powerful because it ties into our need to win the approval/admiration of others and it allows you to celebrate the success of others as well as yourself.
While there are no shortcuts to success, the path to your goals doesn’t have to be a challenging one. Yes, you’ll encounter obstacles along the way, but overcoming them will make you stronger and equip you with skills and knowledge that you will need later on. As with any new adventure, success comes from strong motivation, steady action and the support of others. If you combine those elements with a realistic goal and a good plan, you’ll quickly find yourself on the fast-track to success. As Nike says: Just do it!