A man once said to me, “My friends are always talking about their financial plans, but the idea that I could create such a thing feels impossible. I’m terrible with money!”
I told him, “I understand that feeling. But the truth is you could create a smart financial plan. It really is possible.”
(That’s a book I want to write one day: “How to Do Seemingly Impossible Things.”)
Have you ever listed the interesting things you COULD do, but for whatever reason, you’ve never tried to accomplish? My list looks like this: become fluent in French, skydive, play the piano, cycle coast to coast, travel to Africa, write a book (hmmm…).
I’m guessing your list, like mine, is both inspiring and intimidating. Some of your items might seem impossible. They’re not. You could do them.
Just like the man above could create a wise financial plan.
How? By taking these six steps:
1. Make a choice. The first step is to make a choice that, yes, I want to do this thing. Until you decide to pursue a thing, it’s not a serious goal, only a vague wish. And you need to state your decision in specific terms. “Lose weight” is weak. “Stop eating sweets and lose 10 pounds by June so I can get back into my swim suit for our family vacation” is much better.
2. Engage a coach. Have you ever heard of a great athlete without a coach? Me neither. Coaches keep us focused and supply motivation when ours runs out. One reason we accomplish so few goals—despite all our good intentions—is that we run out run out of motivation. If you really want to do a thing, get some “coaching”—it may be a financial planner for financial fitness, a personal trainer for physical fitness, or a tutor for a foreign language.
3. Draft a plan. No one ever drifted into greatness. You and your coach must draft an intentional plan of action in order for you to achieve you goal. It’s not enough to simply know your destination. You need the turn-by-turn directions that will get you there.
4. Embrace discipline. If your goal were easy, you would already have accomplished it. It takes discipline—i.e., the practice of saying no to one thing so you can say yes to something else. You need discipline to spend less and save more every month, to attend language classes weekly, or to practice the piano or run or walk two miles daily. That’s why celebrating small victories is important. Little successes keep us going, all the way to the finish line.
5. Accept accountability. Ever failed in pursuit of a goal? I have. When we stumble, we want sympathy, but pats on the back won’t get us to our goal. We need someone on our side—a coach or friend—who will lovingly kick us a little lower in the backside and get us moving again!
6. Refuse to stop. Your progress won’t be even. You’ll have seasons of spectacular progress. You’ll have other times when you think the goal you set was a foolish mistake. When things get hard (and they will), it’s easy to lose perspective. It’s common to want to give up.
But if you determined ahead of time this was a thing you can accomplish, here’s what you have to do: Forget your feelings of failure and forge ahead. Your coach is there is to provide perspective. It’s his/her job to know when to throw in the towel, not yours. Refuse to stop.
Accomplishing hard things isn’t easy, but it also isn’t complicated. These six steps are proven. They will work if you stick with them.
So…what do you want to do?
If creating a financial plan (like the man above) is one of those things you want to tackle, you could benefit from my free list of “30-Something Questions for People Who are 60-Something.” Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it to you right away.
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