I’ve got a confession. I’m terrible at finishing things. This is the third time I’ve started this column! I bet you also have a long list of unfinished projects and ideas.
As we near the end of this 12-part series on taking control of your money and creating the life you want, it’s time to share what I’ve learned about starting, stopping and finishing.
Navigating toward your destinationWhen we’re doing something we’ve never done before, remember, it’s not going to be a straight path. It’s going to be more like navigating the ocean at night by the stars.
To chart your destination, consider what you want your life to be like three years from now. What would be happening to signal that you had reached your goal? Be general in your answers; you’re working on the big picture at this point.
Leave portKnowing where you want to go, it’s time to start by taking the next best action. Which means doing a specific, small activity you believe is going to lead you toward your destination. Ideally, this will be something that will take less than a week to complete and will involve just a few tasks.
BecalmedWhen there is no wind, no forward motion, sailors call it “becalmed.” For me, I lose my momentum right after the novelty of an idea or project fades. After years of experiencing this and beating myself up for stalling, I’ve learned when to expect this phenomenon to hit.
Instead of just sitting in the water going nowhere, I now reconnect to why I chose my destination. Remembering “why” fills my sails with wind to get going again.
CompassIn addition to knowing I’ll lose my wind at some point, I’ve developed the habit of using a compass – a tool for guiding me where I want to go.
The best device I’ve found is a framework. A brief outline guides my work. In the case of living a meaningful life, crossing items off your bucket list and achieving financial security, your compass looks something like this:
What’s my destination/goal?Why is reaching it essential to me?What’s the next action that will keep me gliding toward my destination?List the action steps.Spend 15 minutes getting started. When the timer goes off, consider spending another 15 minutes working.Celebrate what you accomplished, no matter how big or small.Schedule your next work session.Remember, as John A. Shedd said: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
To read other columns in this series, visit https://bit.ly/2BvqSi9. Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.