With the start of a new year, there’s always excitement about the possibilities of what the year can bring. It’s a fresh start; a chance to try again. We make all kinds of goals and for many of us, we’ve quit them by February!

But what I’m talking about today is financial goals; let’s compare these goals to running a marathon. You can’t run a marathon by running one day and quitting the next. It takes consistent training and practice to build up to this feat. Most of us don’t run marathons, not because we aren’t capable of it, but instead because we don’t have the desire, motivation, or work ethic needed to stick with the training to see it through.

Money doesn’t have to be the same though. Instead, just small efforts done consistently can produce tremendous results. Here are a few ways to be gentle with yourself as you work to achieve your financial goals.

REMEMBER: It’s About the Journey Not the Finish Line

Any experienced runner will tell you that while the finish line is great, it’s the journey that keeps the runner going. It’s more about the experiences along the way than it is the endpoint. If it were just the endpoint, no one would succeed. Jeff Bezos wouldn’t have started Amazon without mistakes along the way; Warren Buffett wouldn’t be the billionaire investor without making some bad investment decisions. Each of us has a story to tell of when we fell short or didn’t meet our financial goal or hope for ourselves – but it’s not about the number of times we’ve failed or fallen. It’s about using your past experiences with money to help you make better future financial decisions. It’s about the number of times you get back up and keep moving forward.

Often falling isn’t the issue, it’s the fact that we don’t have a plan. To get to our destination, we must create a path. Sometimes that path can change, and that’s okay to adapt, but if you “fail to plan, you plan to fail” as Benjamin Franklin so wisely stated. If you don’t have a training plan for a marathon, you’ll never make it to the starting line, much less the finish line.

In this same mindset, if you don’t make financial goals or create a plan for your financial future, then you don’t know where to go or how to get there. It’s imperative to sit down and create a plan that works for you. It may be a spending plan (see my spending plan post here). It may be learning to set financial goals for yourself (more about that on my post here). It may be starting to track what you are currently doing so you are better informed to make future plans. Whatever your goal is – write it down. Keep it somewhere you will see it, remember it, and keep taking steps to get to your goal/destination regardless of what that looks like for you. You can’t start something that you don’t plan.

REMEMBER: Practice, Practice, Practice

It’s the day-to-day practice that allows marathon runners to make it to the finish line. You don’t just wake up one day, hop off the couch and run a marathon and finances aren’t like that either. Instead of staying on the couch or living in your fear of finance, take small steps daily to help you track your progress and efforts. 2022 written into sand at the beach during sunset

This is the time of year that so many financial talking heads will tell you they have the perfect solution that will change your financial life forever. But in all reality, there isn’t a magic secret or a one-size-fits-all system for everyone. Instead, find out what works for you which is likely to include a lot of trial and error. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What has worked for you in the past?
  • What has NOT worked for you in the past?

Start there. Then add to it. Maybe try something new this year and see what you like or don’t like about it.

I’ll share a bit about my financial journey. Even though I’ve been in the financial planning space for over 2 decades, I continue to evolve a system that works for me and my family. I’ve used Mint, YNAB, Personal Capital, my own spreadsheets (see Spending Plan & Life Fund worksheets here), multiple bank accounts, etc., etc. Recently, I started using Qube Money for my variable spending (see more about this on my Instagram stories). Over the years, I’ve crafted a solution that works pretty well for us as a family.

The other key component to this is that family and finances are constantly evolving. This needs to be a dynamic process that allows for tweaks, changes, and sometimes overhauls to be successful for your situation. Evolution is the key. Remember to be open to change and new technology that allows for better systems and processes. The most important part is that you find what works for you at this time!

REMEMBER: Celebrate the Wins

Everyone knows that the most gratifying part of a marathon is the finish line. That’s when you celebrate the accomplishment and look back and appreciate the journey. The stories and experiences are key to success and winning.

Celebrating is also important in meeting your financial goals. Are you taking the time to celebrate the wins in your life? Even the small ones? When you do this, it helps you stay on track and motivates you to move on your path forward.

And remember, your celebration doesn’t have to be something about money. Celebrate in a way that makes you feel connected and whole. Find something that is enjoyable and refreshing to you and allow yourself the space to experience the win.

So while you may never run a marathon, you can achieve financial success in meeting your goals. With a focus on the journey, lots of practice, and forgiveness in making mistakes, you too can celebrate your financial wins along the way as you grow and develop financially.

Leave me a comment below letting me know your plans for your financial journey this year.

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