Recently I was discussing my age (ahem, 40) with some acquaintances, telling them it didn’t really bother me since I don’t feel old and I have no regrets. One woman made the comment that when she turned 40, she became painfully aware that she was not at the point in life that she thought she would be…”financially”.
Not knowing this woman well at all, I was left with unanswered questions. Had I asked, I may have appeared rude and meddlesome (sometimes I am meddlesome, but rarely rude). So I have to speculate, and I could be waaay off.
I would say that she meant one of two things. One, she has more debt than she is comfortable with, quite possibly with little to no savings. Or, two, she is behind on her retirement savings and thinks she’ll have to work until she’s 110. I think many people feel this way, particularly as they get closer to the ripe old age of 40.
Choose to start
The frustration with not actually accomplishing the goals you had previously had will either motivate you or paralyze you. This perceived failure can provide motivation to start now and take those steps to propel yourself toward the desired goals. On the flip side, the situation can paralyze you and keep you stuck where you’re at, as the goals seem too large or unreachable – so why bother even trying?
Obviously the first mindset is the most positive and will eventually work. Your goals may take a little longer to reach than you had planned, but if you just start, you will eventually get to where you would like to be, or at least to a much more satisfying and comfortable place than your current situation.
How do you overcome the frustration and overwhelming feeling of never reaching those goals that seem so unattainable?
Take a look at other parts of your life that you consider successful. How did you get there? Think back at how long it took to become successful in this area and the exact steps you took to get there. Examine the bumps in the road and how you kept pushing forward to get to where you are today. Write this down. Don’t just think about it, write it down. Start with “I am successful at _____________”. Do this.
Pick whatever you want. Are you a good parent, employee, manager, driver, teacher, cook, whatever? This can be anything! Don’t say you’re not good at anything. I’m not talking perfection here. Everyone is good at something!
For example, let’s say you feel like you’ve become a pretty successful parent. Were you born a good parent? Absolutely not. You learned somehow. You made changes in your behavior when something didn’t work for you (and your kids), right? Maybe you read books, blogs and parenting websites. Maybe you followed the example of someone you know. Maybe you paid attention to other successful parents around you and emulated them.
Maybe you hired a nanny.
Write this process down. No need to write a book, just jot down your notes on how you got successful at that one certain thing.
Take what you wrote down and really look at it. You did not become a successful _________ overnight. This success took time, attention and lots of hard work. Examine those processes you used to get good. You will see what has worked for you in the past. Take that information about how you learn and grow and apply it to your financial goal.
Excuses don’t work!
You can always look at other people’s success and find reasons that they are able to succeed and you aren’t. You can point to things in life that you perceive as obstacles to your success. This does not work. Everyone has hurdles to overcome. It’s how people deal with the hurdles that determines success.
If you are buried in debt and financially miserable, you could say, “If I made more money, than I could…pay off debt, start saving, stop using the credit card”.
You will find a way around the obstacles one way or another if you really want to succeed at accomplishing your goal.
Even if you start with just one dollar a day toward your debt or savings, once that becomes a habit, you may find that you have two extra dollars a day. Focus on the small wins in the beginning to propel you toward your goal. Eventually all of those small wins add up to big accomplishments.
If what you are doing now isn’t working, you need to change it! Just talking about it does not work. You have to do the hard work and put forth the effort to start seeing results.
Start small, but just start.