Have you ever set a goal only to fail later? I bet you hate failing to reach your goals. I know I do. If you are in debt and trying to get out, this may be the post for you. For anyone who has been reading my blog for any time, I don’t write about debt that often. In fact, I often write about how to avoid debt at all costs. The primary reason for this is because my wife and I don’t have any debt; mostly because we were able to graduate from college without any student loans.
Setting Goals to Get Out of Debt
The best way to get out of debt is to establish a plan. The plan certainly has to start with paying less than you make each month, otherwise you will continue to go back into debt. Once you set your goal and find out a reasonable time frame for getting out of debt (the sooner the better), the next part is sticking to your plan. Sometimes it’s not as easy as people make it sound.
Falling Behind on Your Goals
One of the goals I made for 2011 was to bike 1,000 miles. This sounds like a huge goal (and it is), but I was determined to accomplish it. I am not usually a New Years resolution type of guy, but I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. I wasn’t overweight or anything of the sort, but it was about 6 months after my dad had open heart surgery. I don’t want to end up on the operation table when I am his age, so I set this goal to help get me motivated.
To make a long story short, it was around October that I realized that winter was coming sooner than I expected. This kept me from biking to work during the month of October. I am also taking a heavy load in grad school this semester, so I have little time to work out. This meant that I wasn’t going to make my goal.
What to Do When You are Behind in Your Goals
When I realized how hard it would be to reach my goal of 1,000 miles before 2012 arrived, I had to face reality. At my current pace, there was no way to reach my goal. As I saw it, there were multiple paths that I could take:
- Give up: I could give up completely. Stop exercising all together and start up the next year. The problem with this option is that it failed to consider the real reason behind working out. I was working out primarily to be healthy, not to hit a certain number.
- Kick it into Overdrive: I calculated the numbers. I had to bike 400 miles between the beginning of October and the end of December. This would mean biking 133 miles per month, a little over 30 miles per week. Theoretically, I could have biked 10 miles 3x a week and come close to my goal, but I just didn’t have the time.
- Adjust the Goal: Believe it or not, this seems to be the best goal. Goals are supposed to motivate you toward a better end–not be the death of you. I realized that I had fallen behind in my goal and needed to adjust it. That’s perfectly acceptable.
If You Are Behind in Your Debt Payment Plan
If you are falling behind in paying back your debt, I think these are important lessons to remember. Don’t beat yourself up. If you try too hard to stick to your original plan, you will probably get burnt out. Don’t work too hard and make yourself give up everything only months later. Make sure your goal is reasonable for you. But, don’t let this be a reason to slack off. Paying down debt should take priority over unnecessary spending. Learning to live within your means is the secret of how to be rich. Similar to budgeting, find what works for you and create goals that you can stick to and that will push you towards a healthier life at the same time.