Life is busy! How do I get started on The Money Plan?
You might think it’s tough to change your habits, but most things in life are tough when you don’t know how. Can you remember what it was like learning to tie your shoe laces? Wow, that took me a while to master… I wanted slip-on-shoes, but that was not an option for my mum and Mrs Pierce, my primary school teacher, because they knew if I persevered and followed the strategy they had shown children before me, I would master my laces. An update from 44-year-old me: I did (eventually!).
Money can be the same: when you don’t know how to manage it well, it can be overwhelming. I understand that, so we need a successful strategy. Like Mrs Pierce had one for me, I have that for you – it’s called The Money Plan.
The Money Plan has five steps to get you financially well organised, but the most important is step one: getting started, knowing what you want!
People say to me, ‘You talk about lots of good things and making a positive change, but I’m really busy in my life and I don’t know if I have time for it.’
My response is that for any change to occur, you’ve got to get massively uncomfortable and unhappy with your present situation. You’ve got to really want to change, a wish is not going to cut it!
If you don’t make changing an absolute must, not just a should, then nothing will happen. We don’t do our ‘shoulds’ in life – on a diet we may say, ‘I shouldn’t have that wine or chocolate’, but we often do; yet when we say ‘I must not do that’, we often listen to ourselves.
You need to say never again, no more, I have had enough, I don’t accept this situation, I want more.
Then you’re ready for change.
Starting out on The Money Plan
When you’re ready to change, you’ve got to know what you’re looking to achieve. I call this your compelling vision: it’s what your future self looks like and the life you want to live.
You see, if you don’t know what you really want, how will you know you are on the right path, or when you have succeeded?
Often, where you are today and where you want to be are worlds apart. A common example is thinking, ‘if I won the lottery I would …’ or ‘When I retire I’m going to do x, y, z’ – in your mind that’s a way off in the future and there’s a big gap.
Because there’s a big gap from our present reality to our future reality, we need to break the journey up, or it will be too overwhelming for us to rationalise. You’ve heard the saying; how do you eat an elephant? One mouthful at a time.
That’s why we have to set goals or outcomes along the journey to our compelling vision, like stepping stones at one year, three years, five years and 10 years along the way. You can read more about goal-setting here.
Human nature is to overestimate what we can do in one year, yet underestimate what we can do in a decade; our vision is naturally more short-term and unfortunately this is a reflection of modern-day society’s ‘instant credit, buy now’, 3-minute meals, 30-second abs… you get the message.
What I’m asking you to do with The Money Plan is change your approach so that your vision is more long-term, so that you can enjoy the process rather than trying to cram everything into a few months, which won’t work. If you try to sacrifice too much at once, you’ll give up.
Life is for living, enjoy the journey, because at the end is the exit. Don’t rush to get there!
So we set a compelling vision which is our future self, how we aspire to live; along our journey we have our set goals at 10 years, five years, three years and 12 months. But 12 months is a long time.
Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution only to forget it by February? It’s natural with a busy life and with so many demands both personal and professional on us. To set yourself up for success, we have stepping stones or what I call 90-day check-ins: four review points along the way in your first year of getting financially organised. These check-ins should be stepping stones towards your 12 months goal.
Staying on track…
I learned years ago that it’s our habits that make us and our habits that can break us. What I mean by that is we don’t become great overnight, or by doing one specific thing which is great. It’s an accumulation of many little different things, consistency is the secret to any success in life. That’s why Olympians train more than amateurs.
So, each day I suggest you write three to five key actions which will move you closer to your outcomes – this is not your shopping list, or a basic to-do list, these are meaningful tasks to move you towards your future life.
Next, review the previous days actions to see how you are progressing, this gives you feedback which is so important.
It’s important to enjoy life, to enjoy the journey and goal-setting like this can take you out of the present moment and living in the future. So I suggest you then write three things each day that you are grateful to have in your life. This brings you back to the present moment and allows you time to appreciate your life.
Finally, I also use a journal to record any thoughts and feelings I have in my mind, and I personally find meditation a great way to clear the mind and keep me on track.
That’s the strategy for getting started with The Money Plan. Like all good strategies, at its heart it’s simple, and I can promise you that it works. It’s helped people get out of debt and it’s helped people invest in their future. It can and will help you too.
Remember, everything starts with getting massively uncomfortable and knowing that you want more than you have today and that you must make a change. If you’re reading this, then you may well be ready to take control of your financial life. I’d be honoured to help you in that journey.