When it comes to motivation, all of us have both good and bad days. Some days, my “To Do” list fills with checkmarks from jobs well done. On other days, I’m lucky to muddle through one or two of the items I’ve jotted down. I feel unfocused and lethargic and want to hide my eyes from all that remains undone.
This scenario rings true for most of us financially, too. Depending on our mood and present circumstances, we choose to handle our money effectively or conversely bury our heads in the sand. If you’re feeling a lack of motivation when it comes to your finances, these principles help identify what’s really going on and how to push through those valleys of apathy.
Money motivation problem: No plan
An ancient Proverb states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The same idea applies to your finances. If you don’t have a clear directive of what you want to do with your money, you’re less likely to pay attention to the details and do the necessary steps required. Before you know it, late fees, unpaid bills and last minute overspending add up worsening the problem.
Solution: Write down your financial goals
If you’ve never developed a specific plan or financial goal, now’s the time to begin. Brainstorm three long term goals for your money. Think: Paying off student loan debt, buying a vehicle or home, saving 15 percent of your income for retirement. Then, focus in on two shorter term goals. Think: Saving up a small emergency fund of $500 to $1,000, paying off your smallest debt or saving a specific amount for Christmas this year.
Post these goals where you can see them on a daily basis. Obviously, you’ll need to do more than write down your goals to achieve them. However, this first initial step allows you to clarify your vision. Placing the handwritten note card or page in your path where daily you’ll encounter these objectives, reminds you to be about the business of greater things.
Money motivation problem: Fear
Believe it or not, your lack of motivation might be rooted in fear. Whether it’s the fear of failure, the fear of insignificance or the fear of losing control, our insecurities often block us from doing the work necessary to manage our money well.
Solution: Identify, develop coping mechanisms
Rather than excusing your inactivity as laziness or being too tired, recognize that your motivational dearth might be caused by fear. It takes a brave woman or man to admit fear in their lives. But those that do and learn how to cope with fear often find success.
Once you identify the fear that’s holding you back, commit to talking to someone who can help. It may be a financial advisor, a pastor or a friend. Ask them to point you toward further resources that combat fear. We all have fears. You’re not alone. Make strides toward living beyond them.
Money motivation problem: You don’t know where to begin
Even with small goals, it can feel easy to be overwhelmed with too many options. Should you pay off debt? Should you increase your savings? And how can you do any of the above when you feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck?
Solution: Start small
Rome wasn’t built in a day. And your financial problems aren’t likely to go away within a 24-hour period, either. Rather than getting caught up in the complexities of your situation, identify two or three small action steps you know you can take.
Maybe this week, you’ll skip the drive-through and pack a lunch to take to work. Maybe it’s as simple as making a commitment to logging into your financial accounts daily, tracking your income and expenses. Effective change is made in small increments. Making and achieving micro goals moves you toward greater objectives. Don’t get lost in the weeds. Focus on what you can do to make change today instead of all you can’t do right now.
Motivation ebbs and flows through the seasons of our lives. If you’ve been stuck in a financial funk, today is your day to shake off the money doldrums and find your groove. Begin again (or for the first time) when it comes to your money. Clarify your vision. Fight fear. And start small. You can do this!