We have officially passed the halfway mark of 2018 and it’s a great point to stop, re-visit your goals from the beginning of the year, and take stock of where you currently stand. Are you on target to finish strong, or did you lose motivation months ago?
Our debt free journey lasted a full year and we are finally at the finish line, and I’ve been asked a lot how we’ve remained motivated throughout, so I thought I’d share the answer.
Firstly, when we decided we wanted to get out of debt, it took a full month to figure out how long it would take, how much we could afford to overpay, and how we would achieve it. I kept a spreadsheet of all of our figures and altered it as I went, which helped our plan to evolve over time as we did our research. Just like any goal, it started with a plan; a meticulous, detailed plan.
One of the best ways to keep motivated is to build momentum as you go, and the easiest way to build momentum is to start small. A good example of this principle would be- how many diets are started on a Monday, that don’t even last until the end of the week? In most cases, this comes down to starting at an unsustainable point (like eating too little calories, or exercising beyond your capability). Anyone who has lost weight successfully will tell you its a long and slow journey, just like paying off debt. But if you start slow, with realistic targets in the beginning, you will be so buzzed when you achieve each mini-goal.
So you’ve got your plan, and you’ve started slow, and you’re working towards your goals. The next thing you need? Support. What type of support system have you got? Have you got people cheering for you, people you can relate to, a mentor, or people that are on the same journey that you can work with together? Or are you surrounded by people who have a problem for every solution, people who doubt your abilities, people who want you to fail or even simply, people who maintain a lifestyle built on debt?
If you have the latter, it’s time to start reaching out to find your tribe. No man is an island, and when it comes to paying off debt, going it alone can be isolating and difficult. The ironic thing about social media is that, when you are using it to stay connected to your IRL people, you can wind up feeling worse about your life. But when you use it to find like-minded individuals, groups of people with the same goals, and a support system for whatever you are going through, it’s one of the best resources you can have. So if you find that you need support on your journey that you lack IRL, use social media as a starting point and grow your network from there.
Use your support network to hold yourself accountable. Discuss your goals, even if you have doubts that you will achieve them. Accept constructive criticism when it can help you to improve. Learn from your mistakes. Be honest about your struggles.
Beyond support from others, taking care of yourself and your health is key to remain motivated. I am very open about my own mental health struggles and I think we all have our anxieties in life- it’s part of the journey. Taking care of my mental health while paying off debt made my journey sustainable. So with that said, here are some methods for handling mental health, with a focus on debt, from MyDebtDiary.
And finally, the fun part: celebrate every milestone on your journey: your first overpayment, your first fully paid-off debt, completing your first six months. Motivate yourself with a little something that says, you done good. Do something you truly enjoy and give yourself the congratulations you deserve. Life is hard, take any excuse that you can to eat cake!