5 Tips For Sticking To Your Plan

August 14, 2017

What is one of your current life goals? Maybe you are working on an educational degree or training for work. Perhaps you have a triathlon or marathon in your sights or a big house project or debt you want to ditch.

How are you progressing on said goal? Are you, like I certainly have done, waiting for motivation to start or resume working toward it? Ironic, isn’t it, that motivation is something you actually earn by doing the thing?

We mistakenly wait for motivation, not realizing that it comes as we do.

Motivation is actually not a prerequisite emotion to the doing. Goals are the practical milestones of a life on-purpose. And the feeling you get when you accomplish them is what motivates you to set another or take the next step.

With this as a backdrop, allow me to share five principles that will help you stick with your financial goals and your plan to get there (“a budget”). Remember, budgeting is not an end in itself, rather it is a means to an end. Or several ends. Ends that are awesome!

Here are five tips for staying on purpose with your goals.

1. Do set yourself up for success.

Use the right tools.

Involve a coach or mentor.

Create structure around implementing small but critical financial habits.

Actively work on the quality of your thoughts about you and money.

Create reminders-from-your-better-yourself-to-your-less-confident-self in your phone to remind you to reconcile your budget to your checking account.

Decide when you are going to enter transactions or where you are going to consolidate receipts for entry.

Implementing the above—especially when fueled with belief that they will work—will keep you from merely wanting to do it, thinking about it, and feeling guilty that you aren't working on it.

2. Don’t sabotage yourself.

For example, do not go to Target every day if you know you are prone to overspend there. If you have budgeted $1,000/week for Target, go ahead, but I’m guessing that in your budget you told yourself that there is something that you want more than whatever $1,000 at Target can buy.

When you do (for example) go to Target, make sure you go with a purpose and not because you’re bored.

If you are bored and purposeless (bad combination!) when you put yourself in the vicinity of your overspending oasis, your money will do a remarkable job of spending itself.

You can keep from self- and budget-sabotage by not putting yourself in situations where the situation + your emotions make it easy to cave.

3. Do remember your why.

Put up posters.

Add reminders on the fridge.

Think about the result and how good it will feel.

Leave a note on your desk.

Pin your debt-payoff spreadsheet on the wall.

In short, spend time remembering and visually looking at anything that will remind yourself how worth it the journey is.

When I was paying off debt, I frequently—as in a couple times a week—would pull out of my journal to just to review my handwritten plan, how far I’d come and get my eye again on the prize of being debt-free.

Nothing about this was sure wasn’t fancy—just a folded sheet of 8.5×11 paper—but the content, scribbles and all, was a powerful motivator for me.

4. Don’t blame the budget.

If your situation is particularly tight and the budget just surfaces it or highlights “the tightness”, don’t blame the budget. In fact, you'll have more energy for improving your situation if you don't blame anyone or anything.

Blaming the budget merely causes you to turn from the very tool that will help you change this situation.

The budget is just helping you organize your situation and get everything out in the open where good things can happen. It is the beautiful mechanism by which you are going to improve your situation. It’s your friend, not foe:-)

5. Keep a budget, and keep your budget alive.

I am of the mentality that every single person on the planet should have some form of a plan for their money. It’s not just people making less than $40,000 or $60,000 or $100,000 who should have a budget.

I have seen a budget benefit clients making nearly $1,000,000 as much as I've seen it benefit clients making $40,000. How can this be? I would wager that it's because, no matter the situation, people crave the feeling of having a handle on their money.

Another universally appealing result of budgeting is knowing that the money spent on Thing 1 has no negative impact on the rest of the Things they need/hope to fund or buy.  

A budget is just deciding how much of your money is going to go toward X, Y and Z and not necessarily an enforcer of a frugal lifestyle.

As to keeping your budget alive: a budget will evolve as your situation improves and changes. Regardless of where you are today, your current situation is not your “forever”. This is especially important to remember for those who have a pretty strapped present reality.

If you are cutting back to get your expenses less than your income, that’s awesome, but not the way you’re going to live forever assuming you have ambition. And I think you do:-)


Goals—financial and otherwise—are wonderful. Otherwise, we get what we get on accident.

Motivation is earned by achieving goals,

Target has a (well-earned?) bad rap for being a place where people spend too much money.  

There are principles that if respected help us achieve our goals.  

What’s your current goal, financial or otherwise? And what are you doing to make progress toward it?

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