Not too long ago I was having a conversation with a man who was dressed casually in a tank top and some shorts. From what I could see, it appeared that he was covered in tattoos from his neck to his ankles. During the course of the conversation he was venting his frustrations about not being able to afford to buy a home and trying to explain to me how the cards had been stacked against him financially. Listening to him, I learned he felt that his current job and future prospects did not give him an opportunity to save the money needed to buy a home.
So I listened to him quietly, nodding my head up and down when it was appropriate but as I thought to myself, I could not rationalize any of the arguments that he was making.
Slowly and very calculated, I started to interject my thoughts into the conversation with commentary such as:
“That’s a beautiful tattoo on your arm, was it expensive?”
“I have a buddy who has a tattoo kinda similar to the one on your leg, how much does one of those things cost?”
“That ink on your neck looks painful… was the pain worth the price?”
You see, my line of thinking was that he did in fact have the financial means to purchase a home, it was just that he had misdirected the required funds towards paying for the tattoos on his body. Although he claimed that being a homeowner was a priority in his life, his non-essential spending continually sabotaged his efforts to reach that goal.
Priorities. Losing weight, saving money, going back to school, starting a business, cleaning out the garage.
How many of us have priorities that seem to get buried under other unnecessary tasks that push us further away from the goal line of achieving our desires? Too much time wasted on social media when we should be studying, too much money spent dining out instead of cooking at home, too many weekends hanging out with friends instead of working on starting our business.
We have all had moments when we let the non-essentials of life take precedence over our priorities but there is a way to make sure you don’t stay on the downward cycle of self-sabotage. You must establish a plan. Without a plan we are all destined to fail.
(1) Establish goals:
Take some time and sit down and figure out what direction you are really trying to go. Are you trying to pay off all your credit cards? Take a family vacation? Enter into a triathlon? Once you have a few concrete goals in mind, it then becomes easier to navigate through the next steps.
(2) Constantly remind yourself of what is most important to you by asking the “one month from now, one year from now” question.
Now that you have your goals prioritized in your mind, distractions will appear as you work to achieve them and always ask yourself in those moments: “is this getting me closer to my goals… Is this part of my priorities… in one month from now or one year from now will this put me closer towards what I’m trying to accomplish?”
As with the gentleman that I was talking to, if he had solidified the vision of buying a home as his end goal and made it his priority, then most likely he would have decided that the money spent on tattoos was not as important as saving it for a house. He would have said , if I spend this money now on a tattoo, then one year from now I will be further away from my goal and thrown off track from my priorities.
This leads into another important part in making sure you stay on task once you establish your priorities and that is:
(3) Determine what are your distractions:
Maybe you can’t drive by a certain fast food place if your priority is to lose weight because you know you will stop and pick up a meal that is not in alignment with your diet. Possibly you can’t spend money hanging out at nightclubs on the weekends if your priority is to save money to take your family on a vacation. Pay close attention to what enticing temptations throw you off the path, so you can mentally be aware when they pop up and then not allow them to distract you from where you are trying to get to.
Like the man that I was talking to, many times we like to give excuses as to why we have not achieved certain goals in life. We like to use baseless theories as to why we are behind the ball when in reality if we’re honest with ourselves, no one is holding us up from success but that person who stares back at us from the mirror.