I Run for Chocolate
Several of my Facebook friends are fired up about losing weight. I mean fired up! They’re eating better and exercising regularly. Not only are they losing weight, they have more energy and self-confidence. Their progress is truly inspiring. I love reading their updates. They fire me up too!
This got me thinking about what it takes to have a successful weight loss plan or a successful debt reduction/wealth building plan. There are quite a few similarities actually. Here are just a few.
First, there has to be motivation – a reason to get fired up and make a change. For me, when my favorite pair of shorts mysteriously “shrink”, I know it’s time to step away from the chocolate ice cream and lace up the running shoes. For some, it’s when they realize the class reunion is only three months away. With finances, maybe you knew it was time to change when you had to break down and ask a family member for a loan. Or maybe you get depressed when you see how little is in your 401K. There almost always is a trigger, the final straw, that makes you say “Enough! I’m not going to live this way anymore.”
Take Action – Have a Plan
Dreaming about losing weight doesn’t burn calories. Dreaming about getting out of debt doesn’t pay the creditors. We have to take action. There has to be a plan of attack – a specific plan. Eat less, exercise more isn’t specific enough. Spend less, earn more isn’t much of a plan either. What types of food are you going to eat, how much? What kinds of exercise, how often? A specific plan for our money is called a budget. It’s the first step to any successful financial plan.
Consider Input and Output
I’ve completed a couple of marathons and several half-marathons. I like to joke that I run so I can eat all the chocolate I want. But it doesn’t really work that way, unfortunately. A successful weight loss plan has to look at both sides of the equation – calories consumed and calories burned. It’s the same with money. Sometimes we think if we just made more money all our problems would go away. But regardless of income, we have to have control over spending as well.
If I went on a weight loss plan that ruled out chocolate all together, I would fail. Fail big time. I love chocolate way too much. (As if you couldn’t tell. It’s only the third time I’ve mentioned chocolate in this post). At some point, I would cheat by eating just a few M&M’s, no big deal right? But then guilt would set in because I wasn’t supposed to have any at all. And then, hey, since I failed anyway, I might as well eat the whole jumbo-sized bag. We have to allow for a little grace – a cheat meal from time to time or a little money to spend on something fun – so our plan can bend, but not break.
Rah Rah Sis Boom Ba! Changing health habits or money habits is hard, really, really hard. There will be times when motivation wanes. We need to find cheerleaders – friends and family who believe in us even when we don’t.
Sharing our goals with others also holds us accountable. For quite some time I just couldn’t seem to get under a 30 minute time for a 5K race. The night before a race I told my husband (boyfriend at the time) that my goal was to finish under 30 minutes. The last half-mile of that race was brutal, but I pushed through – my first ever sub-30 5K. Was he going to care if I didn’t make the goal? No. But it mattered more to me and I pushed harder because I had told him about it.
A key difference between a health plan and a money plan is you won’t see too many people sharing their money struggles or successes all over Facebook. We tend to keep money matters a little more private, don’t we? And that’s ok. But, it’s still important to find support from close family and friends while working through money struggles. Who knows, you might even discover they are dealing with similar struggles.
Have you had enough? Are you tired of living in debt? Are you tired of money running out before the end of the month? Or maybe you’re doing ok, but dream of retiring early. No matter what your money goals are, I can help. I can help you develop a plan specific to your situation; I can be your cheerleader. Contact me today!