When my wife, Jo and I got married 12 years ago, we quickly started to accrue debt.
Over the next few years, we would reach over a hundred thousand dollars of debt. This was between college, credit cards, and car payments. It was awful. We’d get paid on Friday, and by Sunday we felt utterly broke. We decided we had had enough of this, so we set ourselves a goal:
Get to zero
A hundred thousand dollars is such a crazy amount of money that it just felt impossible. We needed a plan and a general direction. Jo thought that the best way forward was to start a budget. She believed it would help us shine some much-needed light on our situation. I took a little while to convince, but eventually, I agreed to maintain a budget. Over time, I came to realize that this was the most decisive contributor to being debt-free today. That’s right. It took us a few years, but we slowly paid off all of our debt. All one hundred thousand dollars of it.
We got to zero
This milestone happened a few years ago. It felt amazing, but one of my biggest regrets is not thinking long term. Yes, it took us years to pay off our debt. At the time, it seemed like it was taking forever. Looking back now tho, I feel that those years flew by.
Where to go from here?
After we paid off our debt, we didn’t set any goals. We didn’t make any plans. We just sort of wandered. Our budget went from having a clear purpose to just being a transaction tracker. We had insights but no direction. If there were things we wanted, we’d check the budget to make sure we had the money, then we’d buy. In cash. So we’re good, right? That’s what I thought. I started to realize that I should have been working toward something, anything. Instead, we just drifted without giving much thought to where we were going.
Too long wandering
I’m not interested in sitting still. I believe that if I’m not moving forward, then I’m going backward. I feel this way about three areas of my life:
Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to define some goals and set some plans in the same way that Jo and I did when we decided to get to zero. While I’ll mostly stay focused on my professional aspirations, I’ll be working on the others similarly:
Assess the situation
In the same way that our budget had shed light on our financial circumstances, I want to make sure I know where I stand in each of these areas before I make any moves.
My goals shouldn’t be broad. I need to be able to see them. In my mind, and eventually, in real life. What does my long term goal look like?
Set a plan
Goals without plans are dreams. They’re just ideas, and ideas are cheap. If setting a goal is something I should see, then a plan should show me how to get there, one step at a time.
Take a step every day
Action and consistency have proven to me to be king above all else. Jo and I took daily steps towards paying off our debt. The goals I define will be something I’ll need to take a step towards every single day.
If you’re reading this now, thank you! You have no idea how much it means to me that you took time out of your day to read this post.
Until next time.