Staying motivated is hard. What do you do when there's no light at the end of the tunnel? Keep moving forward! There are many similarities between physical fitness and financial planning. We often know where we want to end up, but getting there is the hard part. We know how much weight we want to lose or how we want to look. We know how much money we'll need to save or the price of something we want. If there was a magic wand, we'd wave it. But there isn't. There is just a willingness do things that are hard.
If it's been a while since you've exercised and are trying to get back into shape, you probably know that it won't happen overnight. I've heard it said that it takes 4 weeks for you to notice, 8 weeks for your partner to notice, 12 weeks for your friends to notice, and 16 weeks for EVERYONE to notice. When you start an exercise program, there is very little light at the end of the tunnel. When you start, you feel worse than you felt before. You're sore and tired and questioning why you started in the first place. The same can be said for financial planning.
Staying motivated is hard.
Getting your financial house in order won't come without some pain. You'll need to sacrifice. If you're going to build up your nest egg, you'll need to get comfortable with seeing NO results and potentially even negative progress depending on the performance of your investments. Attaining the goal can seem futile, but I can assure you, it's NOT. If you stay committed, even in the darkness of the tunnel, there will be light and it won't be an oncoming train.
I recently agreed to participate in the Spartan Beast which is a 12 to 14 mile obstacle race designed to test both mental and physical fitness. After signing up I began receiving emails detailing recommended workouts to prepare for the event. I quickly realized that these prep workouts were beyond my abilities. What little light in the tunnel went dark and I began to doubt my ability to complete the race.
This feeling reminded me of the time my wife and I started a savings fund for our child's education. When realizing the future costs, we doubted whether we could achieve the goal. The numbers were staggering.
The devil on my shoulder could have easily convinced me that it was an exercise in futility, but the angel won out and I saw the light. I didn't need to pay for college right now and I had time to prepare.
Financial and physical fitness requires the ability to continue doing the things that are hard even when you're not seeing results. When the light in the tunnel goes dark, keep going! When the light reappears, it won't be an oncoming train, it will be SUCCESS!
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2021 Financial Planning Cheat Sheet
Your guide to 2021 tax rates, retirement contributions, and Social Security.