Life is better today because I started ‘NOW’

Start now. That is the best advice I can give for anything you want to change about your life. No matter what it is you want to do, take at least a few minutes today to do something that will get you started on your new plan.

I have lost 18 pounds since I started this blog in September. I still have plenty of pounds to lose, but I woke up feeling good this morning- I feel lighter and the same clothes that were a tight fit a few months ago are loose and will soon be too big. I would not feel this way today if I hadn’t made the effort back in September to start something. I started small, only trying to walk for 5-10 minutes  per day and limit my calorie intake, but that was what I needed to get the ball rolling and start building momentum.

Setting a goal to walk for only 5 minutes may seem somewhat small and meaningless, but if you are coming from walking 0 minutes per day, 5 minutes is a huge improvement. The point is, no matter what the situation or what your goal is, changing your life can start today and it can start with something small.

Choose something you know you can do. Don’t wake up one day after months of inactivity and decide that you will jog for 30 minutes and lift weights. That is not realistic! Diets can fail for many reasons, but I believe the problem with a diet is the difficulty of making massive changes overnight. You aren’t building new habits if you take that approach. You are trying to force yourself to behave in a new, uncomfortable way- the odds of success are very slim.

No matter what you want to change in your life, I encourage you to start it now. Take the time to write down your long-term goal (perhaps losing 60 pounds or paying off $25K of debt). Think about where you are now and think about what you can do now (or at least today). Choose something that you can take care of in 5-10 minutes. It could be something simple like walking down your street and back, making an extra payment on a credit card, starting a budget, or getting a how-to book at the library- whatever you can do today, in a short amount of time, that will start you down the path to reaching your long term goal.

Decide what you will do today, then do it today and repeat it tomorrow.

There will be setbacks, there will be days you fail to keep up the pace, but the point is to build new habits. After a few weeks have gone by you will find yourself with a new point of view and that long term goal will seem a little bit closer.
Start now!

Get Out of Debt in 9 Steps # 9 – Be Patient and Don’t Give Up

No matter how well you have done with budgeting, cutting your spending, and tracking everything it is extremely easy to get bogged down in the daily grind and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. I believe this is the hardest part of the process. Depending on the size of your debt balance and the size of your income, you could be looking at years to get out of debt, maybe decades.

There are essentially two levels of debt freedom. One is obvious- having no debt at all. The other is being debt free except for the mortgage. This distinction is made because a mortgage is generally thought of as good debt (I don’t agree, at least not on a long term basis), but saving up the cash to pay for a house is rather difficult and most of us end up with a mortgage when we want to own a home. I want to be 100% debt free and that is my goal, but I will feel a lot better about my debt load once I am debt free except for the mortgage.

Right now, seeing my debt balance gives me a sickening feeling deep down and really motivates me to work hard at getting out of debt. I don’t know if that feeling will go away when I am down to just a mortgage (frankly I hope it does not), but some of the pressure should be off by that time. That pressure and sickening feeling can both motivate you and discourage you. You need to recognize that you have these feelings and think about why you feel that way and what you need to do to change your situation. Nothing will improve if you don’t take action to improve it.

You really need to think about what being debt free means to you and most importantly what it means to you in the long term. For me, being debt free is about freedom. Freedom to not take a job because I need the money and it is a tolerable way to pay the bills. I don’t want to settle for that, but at this point in my life I need to make that choice. I have so much debt that I need my ‘day job’ plus extra work to make my way out of debt.

Don’t get all fired up and work hard for a month and then fizzle out. That is exactly how I have started just about every life changing process I have ever attempted in the past. It’s scary to say things are different this time, but things really are different this time. I am going slowly and making real habit changes. Not superficial changes that only last a short while. You can’t succeed by doing that. You need to go slowly, you need to make small changes that you can handle, and you need to maintain those changes. The steps you take toward becoming debt free need to become habits, natural parts of your life that you live on a daily basis. You need a solid foundation. That is why you should go slowly. Don’t expect to get out of debt overnight. Think about how long it took you to get into debt and allow plenty of time to get out.

In this Get Out of Debt Series, I have outlined many tools and methods for making a successful financial turnaround. I believe this series can be the solid foundation you use to support your journey out of debt. Everything I have talked about here is exactly what I am doing and I know that it works. I know that it is now only a matter of time until I am done with debt. Start your journey today and please feel free to post comments on this site or contact me via email if you need help or encouragement along the way.

9 Steps to Get Out of Debt