At the beginning of the year, we set our resolutions, goals and started moving to accomplish them. Then, life happens and the momentum builds with “busyness.” All of the distractions, good and bad, may make it challenging for us to stay on track towards our accomplishments.
Does this feel familiar to you? Well, it does to me. We are now in March–nearly the ending of the first quarter of the new year. Where are you with respect to your financial goals? Are you right on track? Have you totally forgotten them? Given up? Or have you gotten back on track after falling off a bit?
Whatever the case, this is the time to reflect on what has happened to either keep you on track or take you off track since the beginning of the year. As I’m going through my days, weeks and months, I see myself falling off track a little bit, as well. But the difference is, I get back up. I get back up by sitting down to take thinking time. This is the time I use to go over the ideas and actions that will take me to the next level, make me more money and help me solve the challenges I am facing.
When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I remember driving behind a little blue truck that had a bumper sticker that said, “Don’t just do something, sit there.”
As leaders and in society as a whole, the saying we’ve all heard is, “Don’t just sit there, do something.” That is our natural tendency, to do something. What happens, though, is we do, do and do more to no avail. We keep running, mostly away from what we want in life, unknowingly. To make great strides in life, it is important to take the time to think–think about what has taken place, why it happened, and what it has done to either get you closer to or take you further away from your goals. Most importantly, this is also the time to plan what adjustments you must make to be excellent at achieving what you say you want. This is not the time to say, “But, Nannette, I don’t have enough time.”
Do you have enough time to watch TV? If so, use some of that time for thinking and planning instead.
Block a couple of hours each week in your calendar (I trust you have a calendar tool for planning), and commit to making that time productive and quiet.
Turn your phone off, shut down the email. Retreat to your goals to gain clarity. During this block of time, reflect on where your money has been going. Use bank statements, credit card statements and receipts to help you figure it out. Has your money mainly been going toward debt you accumulated over the holidays? Or has it been going to paying down the debt, and also building your emergency fund?
Watch how you are spending your money. At the end of each quarter of the year, block half of the day to look over the past three months. Seriously, if you look at your major expenses–housing, utilities, food and transportation–everything outside of those basic expenses is a choice to spend money that either keeps you dependent on work to sustain you for the rest of your life, or a choice to save and invest for a bright future, where money works for you instead.
Nannette Atuahene-Barrie is a real estate consultant, educator and investor who specializes in helping you to become financially free when you buy a home, sell a home or invest in real estate, through good money management principles and practices. She holds financial literacy workshops regularly in Palmdale, Calif. Find more information at NannetteBarrie.com.