How to Get Out of a Financial Rut
Do you feel like you haven't made progress in your financial goals? Do you feel lazy? Do you feel like procrastinating? Feel like it'll end up like last year? The first two months of 2019 are almost done, and before you know it 2019 will be over. If you're not on track on reaching your 2019 financial goals, take some time to slow down. You need to reflect and see what you can do differently for the next 10 months.
All it takes is one strong push to start building positive momentum, and then reaching your goals become easier to achieve. Imagine you're trying to get an airplane off the ground. You need your engines working hard enough to build enough speed so that the wings can lift the airplane off the ground. If you don't build enough speed, the airplane won't get off the ground. But once it's up in the air, the engines don't have to work as hard. The wings, the airflow, and the overall aerodynamics are moving the airplane in the air, not as much the engines.
How do you get your airplane off the ground?
The first step to getting your airplane off the ground is understanding where you want your airplane to go. If you're not clear whether you want to go to Japan or to Peru, it's hard to get your airplane to fly.
It takes a lot of energy and a level of commitment to reach your financial goals. If you're unclear about what you want and if you really want it, then it's hard to persevere long enough to build momentum. Get clear with what your goals are and when you want to achieve them by.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
You might already have a clear goal or end destination in mind, and still can't get yourself out of the financial rut. What you need to do is prepare accordingly for the journey ahead.
If you don't check if your plane has fuel, don't check the engine to make sure everything is working, don't prepare ahead of time by reading the wind patterns and the route you need to take, you're preparing to fail.
It's the same with your finances. If you don't know what investment vehicles can help you reach goals, the different risk management tools to consider, or have never set up a budget, it's hard to succeed.
To be prepared you need to be well educated on what's important. If your goal is to repay your debts, you need to know your cash flows coming in and coming out, how much debts you have, the interest rates on each debt, calculate a realistic amount you can put into each one, which one to prioritize, and an action plan you can stick with.
You have to spend some time learning the basics of personal finance so you could be strategic with how you attack your financial goals.
Be mentally prepared
The two biggest barriers from reaching your goals (or even getting started), are both mental barriers.
The first barrier is not trulybelieving you could reach your goals. For the example above, if you prepared an action plan to repay your student loans, and you set a plan to pay off all your student debts in half the time, it might be a stretch mentally. If you're coming in unsure whether you can do it or not, it's hard to carry through with the actions required. You might be able to make progress, but ultimately backslide if you don't believe you can achieve it. Set big goals that stretch you, that make you feel scared, but small enough that you're setting yourself up to win.
The second barrier is having a lack of patience. We live in a time where we want everything at the end of our fingertips. We expect same-day delivery when online shopping and wi-fi at every corner we're walking. We expect the same to happen with our financial results. We expect to pay off all our debts, save up for a down payment, and travel three times all in a couple years. When we come in with this expectation, the actions we take are very short-sighted. We take shortcuts and don't build the proper habits or discipline that are necessary to reach any long-term financial goals. Set realistic expectations of how much work is required to reach your goals. Often times you'll realize it's a lot more work and a lot more time than you thought you'd need.
Birds of a feather flock together
The biggest thing you could do today to help you get out of your rut is to change the flock you're around. You want to surround yourself with people whose goals and values align with you. When you see them working towards their goals, it motivates you to push yourself. You create this synergetic environment where everyone uplifts each other. When you meet people who see greatness in you, it brings out the greatness in you.
If you don't already have an accountability partner, find one! Find one person who you could trust to check in on you once per week to keep you on track. It's very easy for us to break a commitment for ourselves, but if we make a commitment to someone else, it's easier to push ourselves further.
There's nothing to lose
The last thing you do is to stop overthinking and take more action. Action motivates you to take more action. The first step is always the hardest, and each step after that becomes a bit easier. But you need to take that first action first to start building momentum.
"If you want a result you never had, you need to do something you've never done."
The fact you set goals means that you want something better for yourself. If you want to reach your destination, you need to step out of your comfort zone and try something. The worst that can happen is you end up where you were before. You'd rather progress, even if it means failing, than to stagnate and not have any change.