Originally published in March 2012
I woke up to a very messy house today. After being gone all last week and taking Sunday to just rest and reconnect with family, I was met with real-life this morning: unwashed dishes in the sink, dirty laundry to be done, suitcases to be unpacked, and stuff strewn about.
As I thought about how I was going to attack the piles, I realized that the same plan of attack could be applied to finances:
1. Don’t Panic!
Truthfully, I felt somewhat overwhelmed by how bad the mess was–especially with everything else I needed to accomplish today. However, I quickly realized that being overwhelmed would do nothing to fix the issue.
In the same way, if you find yourself in a huge hole financially, panicking won’t do anything to improve the situation.
2. Make a Game Plan
Once I got over being so overwhelmed, I created a game plan: I surveyed the whole house and realized that the mess really just concentrated in the kitchen and bedroom areas. So I carved out a block of time during the day when I would devote my sole attention to dealing with the mess.
If you want to achieve success in your finances, it’s imperative to have a game plan. Dreaming and wandering around in circles doesn’t accomplish anything. Consider where you want to be financially in a year, two years, or five years from now. Write those goals down onto paper and figure out what changes you’re going to make in your life to help you get where you want to go.
3. Break It Down Into Bite-sized Pieces
After I blocked out the time to focus on the messy areas of my home, I divided those areas up by sections, set the timer, and got to work. Instead of trying to tackle entire rooms, I focused on specific areas one at a time. This made it much more manageable.
A game plan is great, but if you don’t break your big idea down into bite-sized pieces you’ll probably find it’s just too hard. Simplify your game plan by breaking it down into yearly, monthly, and weekly goals. That way, you’re not trying to scale a mountain in one leap; you’re just focusing on the next few steps in front of you.
4. Keep Going–Even When It Takes Longer Than You Expected
I had hoped to knock out all of the messes in an hour or so. But it seems things always take longer than I hope. I got distracted, children needed help, and things came up. But by continuing to plod on, even when it was slower than I’d hoped, I finally finished and had almost everything cleaned up and put away by the time Jesse got home from work tonight.
When you’re working toward financial goals, you’re almost guaranteed to have unexpected things come up: job loss, extra expenses, cars that break down, medical bills, and more. It’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up when it seems like the going is so slow. But press on and remember that moving forward–even at a microscopic rate–is still moving forward!