You have tried, you have sacrificed and hung in there but you are beginning to lose faith in ever achieving your financial goals and it seems you aren’t getting anywhere. You want to quit. This is the messy middle of getting to your goals. It is the dark valley between clearly seeing your vision, and the actual attainment of that vision. It is where everything seems foggy, slow and ineffective.
We all feel like this at some point and there is no shame in wanting to quit.
It is so easy to give in to that voice that whispers the compelling justifications that it isn’t worthwhile to focus on building your wealth now and it will be so much easier if you just wait until you are earning more money, or that you are missing out on life by choosing to wait for your rewards and you know you only live once or the more insidious whisper that you can always start again tomorrow.
Only thing is nothing was ever achieved without sticking it out for the long haul and this is especially true of building wealth where the journey is very much a marathon and not a sprint and requires you to show up every day and stick to your healthy money habits.
So how do you keep going?
The true magic to sticking it out lies in creating small achievable daily habits that together compound to build the person you want to be, the person that reaches their goals and then keeps on moving onwards to the next one.
The trick to sticking to our goals according to James Clear in his book Atomic Habits is not to solely focus on the goals as the end objective but rather the small habits and routines that change who you are and get you there.
The first step he outlines in Atomic Habits involves changing the way we see ourselves, more specifically the identity we have created for ourselves. He explains that our current behaviours or the behaviours we will naturally revert to, such as overspending, arise from this identity.
“I am bad with money” or “I am useless at saving” and any of those other negative statements or beliefs we have around money are reflections of our current money identity. In order to change our money habits and stick to our money plan for the long term means changing that identity.
James explains this entails;
- Deciding who we want to be around money
- Proving this is who we are by achieving some small related wins. If you want to be a person that is able to save more money, imagine what that person would do. They may be the type of person who will bring a home made lunch to work a couple of days a week to save the cost of take out, or they may choose to walk to work as opposed to taking public transport. Do that thing and you immediately become the person who by implication saves.
The next steps he outlines in Atomic habits are to implement the 3 R’s to habit change:
Having a Reminder to trigger you to take action, creating a Routine around doing it and ending with a Reward for completion. This could look something like this when related to our finances; As soon as our payslip lands in our bank accounts, the Reminder, we allocate it to various meaningful buckets we have created to match our conscious spending plan. The Routine is we do this weekly, monthly or according to how our payslip is received and the Reward is that one of these buckets is our fun bucket which we get to spend guilt free as we have already taken care of our steps towards our financial goals.
If you still have doubts
Thinking of quitting is not quitting… yet.
The first thing to remember wanting to quit is very different from actually quitting. You haven’t quit yet. Pause and consider the source of your desire to quit. Is it arising from fear that sticking with this is going to change your status quo and take you out of your comfort zone? It is so important to recognise this especially if just beyond our comfort zone means so much more for us.
Go back to the drawing board and reconfirm your why
Have you clearly defined why you are doing this? This may possibly be the best opportunity to revisit your why and make sure this is your vision and that it resonates deeply in your soul. If your vision “truly, madly and deeply lights you up”, you are on track. Revisit this and get re-energised to get back out there and keep going.
Question why you want to quit and have a counter argument with your justifications
When we hit “quitsville” the justifications our minds throw out may sound truly compelling and plausible, but now’s a good time to pull out the “good cop, bad cop” routine with your thoughts. Sift through the reasoning and counter it with the other side of the coin. For example, the story your mind may be telling you is;
“It isn’t making any difference”, What if the initial difference isn’t in your finances yet, but is in the person you are becoming to reach your vision. Has what you achieved so far grown you as a person and have you positively had to change aspects of your behaviour. If you can answer even a small maybe to this, is it not likely that you are on track to making a big difference having already caused positive change this far?
“I work hard I deserve a reward now”, You DO work hard and you absolutely should be rewarded. Your plan should include an acknowledgment of this and provide for a fun element and a reward for the positive actions you are taking. If you have created this acknowledgement of all you are doing in your conscious spending plan you have created a much more positive perspective on sticking to your plan and getting to the greater reward of creating your fabulous life.
“Life is too short to not spend when you have the opportunity” Life can be short and it should be enjoyed, however spending is not always the way to enjoy life. Oftentimes we want to spend for some other reason – emotions. We may be feeling depressed, happy, dissatisfied or lonely. This is a big driver behind the “live for the moment” spending and as with any overindulgence we regret it afterwards. When “you only live once” is the story the voice in your head is telling you it REALLY is time to pull out not only the good cop/ bad cop but the emotions detective as well to get to the bottom of what is behind this.
Choosing to quit is an option and it is your right if you wish to do this, however running and hiding when the going gets tough means that you don’t change your circumstances and move forward, nothing changes until you change, embrace the discomfort and move onwards to the next stage of your financial evolution.