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Look at the little picture

Look at the little picture

Achieving major goals without getting discouraged.
If you’ve got a major goal in mind, reaching it can seem overwhelming at times — especially if you’re looking at the big picture. Thinking about how you owe $53,000 may be depressing. Inputting your current figures into a savings calculator and have it say that it’ll take you 32 years and 11 months to reach your goal (with inflation) may make you want to throw up your hands in frustration. Hours spent cleaning out the garage without any obvious progress may be discouraging. You may feel like you’re never going to get done. Worse, you may give up altogether or not even start. So look at the little picture instead, and achieve your major goals without getting discouraged.

Set mini-goals and challenges.
It’s a lot easier to accomplish a goal of working for 30 minutes on a project today, than it is to put a large project on your calendar each day and have it sit there for months because it isn’t done. If you’ve got a mini-goal of 30 minutes, you’re also much more likely to actually put in the 30 minutes. After all, it’s just 30 minutes. (And oftentimes you’ll find yourself putting in more than the allotted 30 minutes, because once you get started you find yourself wanting to keep going.)

The same thing is true for monetary goals. Saving up a large sum of money or paying off debt may seem overwhelming. But saving up or paying off at least SOME money, no matter how small, every single day is manageable. Challenging yourself to do just a little bit more each month than you did the month before is also manageable. Incremental changes are very doable, and relatively painless. And they have BIG effects.

Reward yourself and celebrate each step of the way.
Take for example MS Mom’s Money. She paid off nearly $15,000 in debt in about 6 months. I bet if you’d asked her 6 months ago if she’d be where she is now, she’d have said no. But small, consistent changes made a huge difference, and she’s celebrating her progress right now on her blog. (Stop over and tell her congrats.) I tend to give myself even more frequent rewards. Worked for 30 minutes on my taxes? Yay, I get to put a big fat “done” check mark on that item in the list. Paid $3 less in interest this month on our mortgage than the month before? Celebrate with a little daydream about what life will be like without that mortgage. Booked my next large client? Time to book a massage.

Find a buddy that can remind you of how far you’ve really come.
They don’t have to be working on the same types of goals as you; they just need to be willing to support and cheer you on, and occasionally give a kick in the seat of the pants if they find you throwing yourself a little pity party. Everyone has a few bad days, and your buddiges are the ones that can point out how far you’ve really come. They are the ones who can keep track of the big picture for you in a positive way. (So that you can keep focused on the small things.)

Have faith in yourself.
Like that little engine that could, start out with “I think I can” and then move right along to “I know I can”. A funny thing happens as soon as you really know that you can: you DO. The world aligns with you, and you reach your goals even faster than others might have thought possible.

View Comments (4)
  • Thanks BM.

    You are VERY right…six months go, I would have thought it was impossible to be where I am now.

    It was that feeling of being overwhelmed, and not knowing where to start.

    Little did you know at the time–that you would be so much help to me–and start me, and continue to encourage me, to be in a better place $$ (and emotionally–less stress worrying about finances).

    I remember telling you I know myself, I would NEVER keep track of my daily expenses.

    Now I do –and don’t mind it at all.

    I actually enjoy finding ways to save, and finding deals. It’s a very rewarding hobby.

    And trying to find something new each day to add on to what I am already doing is a fun challenge.

    Also realizing that I am a work in progress–and not doing everything right…but working on improving my situation, helps me greatly.

    Thanks again–

    And small rewards, is something I do need to work on–

    Thanks again friend.

  • Goals are very, very important. Not just any goals, S.M.A.R.T. goals. And keep up the good work, MSMomsmoney!

  • I always love it when I see bloggers talking about setting goals. I think it’s one of the least talked about parts of financial planning but one of the most important. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

    Thanks for adding this great info!

  • Great advice here. I actually just enacted some of them myself with my journey to debt freedom.

    I agree that I need to work on my small rewards. It seems to be difficult to reward yourself on the path of financial debt relief because a lot of rewards would cost money.

    I’ll be sure to reference your blog from time to time while I work on my own finances!

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