Working towards financial goals is a marathon and not a sprint and the daily slog, with seemingly little progress, can feel very frustrating.
Humans are programmed for instant gratification and the patience we need to see these goals through can feel very foreign to our natural tendencies.
Marathon runners must experience this all the time. I know I do on my comparatively short daily run where at the beginning of the run reaching the end seems a bit overwhelming and a little too hard. This is especially so given that I run at the crack of dawn and honestly most days I question my will to live while doing it. The feeling when I complete the run of course totally eradicates all the negative thoughts that came before until the next day when it all starts again.
To get me through my mini morning marathon as well as my financial marathon I got a few tips from the “ultra-marathoners” which are helping.
Consider where you would be if you weren’t on your financial marathon
Imagine you hadn’t decided to take positive actions on your finances and you had continued with your old bad money habits how would you be feeling now and what would your finances look like ?
In my case, I would still be playing ostrich and obliviously spending more money than I had coming in. I would be mentally and financially stressed and in a much bigger financial hole than I was before I decided to start running this financial health marathon.
Track your progress
No matter how small, progress is still progress.
The positives of small progress can easily be overlooked when considering the big picture and to keep myself motivated I have made tracking my progress a fun thing.
I love spreadsheets and I keep a daily check on my bank account, my credit card spending and of course my net worth.
To be honest the daily tracking was a bit of a negative in March 2020 when my net worth took a dive with the stock market but as I have keep a record (and a graph) of my net worth progress I could see that I had still moved forward.
Spreadsheets may not be your thing but there are apps, visual trackers or anything you can creatively come up with that makes this all a big more meaningful and engaging.
Set achievable milestones
The path to financial health is a long journey paved with good intentions and BIG challenges.
The size of the goal and the size of the challenges can make it seem impossible some days. I guess something the ultra-marathon runner experiences on a regular basis mid race when their energy starts to wane and injuries let themselves be felt.
The way they deal with this is by setting achievable milestones and this is how I have learnt to deal with my morning run and my big fat financial goals. I set mini milestones that I know I can achieve. They are “bite sized” and manageable and the “hit” from reaching them is a powerful incentive to keep going.
Break down your financial goals into mini goals that you know you can get to and celebrate reaching every single one!
Change your inputs
Marathon runners frequently have to change their diets, their running shoes, their pre run preparation and such to make sure they are setting themselves up to perform at their peak.
This means shaking up their status quo which could even entail hiring a new coach, training venues and moving out of their comfort zones.
Consider how you can re-energise your financial marathon. Is it time to ask for a raise, spruce up your CV or increase the rates you charge?
A huge boost along your financial journey comes from increasing your income!
Have a why and revisit it frequently
Know why you want to change your finances for the better. Make this a powerful driver behind what you are doing.
Make your why easily visible so that you have a constant reminder of why doing this matters, especially for the times when the challenge feels just too challenging.
Create a vision board, a screensaver or anything that resonates with you and that can provide the motivation when you temporarily lose it.
The financial health marathon is tough, but so are you and the lessons you learn on it will support you in every aspect of life. Learn, grow, thrive and enjoy the journey!