It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to improve our financial picture but somehow never taking that first step. Here are five things to try to gain the motivation to get things moving.
1. Ask yourself if you really want to do it. Often, we think that we should want to do things and put them on our giant list of things that should be done, even though we have no interest in them whatsoever. Then, they hang over our heads like big black clouds and make it impossible for us to move on – oddly enough; this isn’t motivating and makes us procrastinate even more.
Now with some things like learning how to speak French or making a mosaic garden table, we can make the decision not to do it and move on with our lives. Personal finance is a bit different. While some things like canning our own jam to save money are completely optional, others like finding out exactly how much money we owe aren’t if we want to get in charge of our finances.
The trick is that instead of framing these things as something you should or need to do, you phrase it as something you want to do or will do.
For example, instead of saying “I need to call up my credit companies to ask for a reduction in rates”, tell yourself “I want to call up my credit card companies so that I can ask them for a rate reduction in order to pay off my debt faster” or “I will call up my credit card companies today and find out if they can reduce my rates so that I can move on to the next step”.
Using positive language in this way and looking for reasons why you want to get things done can help you feel more motivated and encouraged instead of feeling weighed down and resentful.
2. Break it into small steps. Thinking about saving a million dollars for retirement or paying off twenty thousand dollars of debt is overwhelming if you don’t break it into small, manageable steps. If you have no idea where to start, ask someone! Look for other people who have done the same and ask them how they did it. This doesn’t necessarily have to be person to person, you could read books, blogs or watch seminars, too.
Breaking down immense goals into smaller, more manageable jobs is a great way to stop feeling overwhelmed and start feeling empowered to take action.
3. Visualize your success. Think about how good it will feel once you’ve met your goals and try to imagine what your life will be like. For example, you could think about how much easier it will be to deal with little emergencies once you’ve saved an emergency fund. Or how much extra money you’ll have to spend on your hobbies once you’ve paid off that debt.
Think about these things often and remind yourself when you find your motivation waning. Having a clear picture of what you’re working towards is an amazing motivator.
4. Keep yourself accountable. This might mean enlisting the help of a family member or friend to keep you on track. Some people find that a chart or log helps keep them on their toes by providing a visual record of their progress (or lack of it!).
It’s easy enough to say you’re going to do something and never follow through. In fact, sometimes just saying something is enough to make people feel like they’ve done it! In my experience, the best way to go from “talk” to “walk” is to chunk down the goal into concrete tasks and set firm deadlines on when they should be done to keep myself accountable. In other words, spend less time talking about what I’m going to do and more time doing it.
5. Learn to think positive. By this I don’t mean sweeping things under the rug or living in denial, I mean tackling your problems with the mindset that this is an opportunity to learn more and do better. It’s easy to get down on ourselves if we’ve made financial mistakes or feel like we haven’t progressed as far as we should in building our net worth. These negative feelings can make us feel like there is no use trying or that our efforts are a punishment for our mistakes.
Make a conscious effort to look for the positives of the situation you are in. Perhaps you unwisely racked up thousands of dollars in credit card bills. That’s over and done, you can’t change that but you can decide that you’ve learned a very important lesson and now you’re going to use your creativity in finding ways to pay off that debt as fast as possible. Or if you’ve put off saving for retirement, you can decide not to mope about all the interest lost and make the decision to get the information you need to make the best possible choices for retirement savings at your age.
Remember that it’s natural for motivation to wane as we work on our goals. Use that as your cue to take some time to take care of yourself so that you’ll have the energy to continue working. Remind yourself that feeling unmotivated is a temporary feeling and you’ll bounce back in no time!
Do you have any tips for becoming more motivated?