During my little mini hiatus from blogging, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my life; what it used to be like, how it is today and the direction I want it to go. It’s not hard for me to reflect on how different my life is today from what it was like 1, 3 or 5 years ago. However, I’m still not exactly where I’d like to be, and life moves so quickly that it’s not always easy to map out which direction you should take.
When I look at the different areas of my life – which I consider to be my career, passion projects, money, health and relationships – and think about how each one has transformed over the last few years, two things become obvious. First, I’m simply grateful that “health” is even on the list now. Old me never cared much for making healthy food choices or working out. But second, until recently, I’ve never been good at finding a balance between all five areas of my life.
See, for years, my life could’ve been described in one word: mindless. I spent without looking, ate without thinking and drank without caring. I was oblivious to how unhappy I was, because I chose to consume my way – through spending, eating and partying – to a better day. I had no major goals, so I couldn’t see past the day or week ahead of me. Instead, I let my emotions guide me through life, which often led to bad decisions and less-than-ideal outcomes. Basically, I hadn’t yet realized that I was in control of my life.
Once I decided to take control of the financial aspect of my life, I immediately changed from being mindless to becoming painfully single-minded. Every decision I made was focused around how it would affect my finances. Could I afford to do this? Was that in the budget? Shouldn’t I have put the money towards debt instead? I (foolishly) pushed savings goals aside and limited my sight on one goal: to become debt-free as soon as possible. I accomplished that, of course, but have been trying to figure out “what’s next?” ever since.
After two years of writing about my debt repayment journey, it felt like my “what’s next” had to be finance-related. I immediately set huge savings goals, without factoring in how life – including multiple moves, a car accident and a wedding – might get in the way. When I couldn’t meet my savings goals, I tried making health-related goals instead. Because I can’t push myself as hard as I’d like to, I’ve been seeing slow results there. And without big results, it’s hard to stay motivated – and then my mind begins to wander…
The break allowed me to hit the pause button on all areas of my life, so I could reflect on where I was at with each one, how I’d gotten there and where I wanted to go next. I quickly realized that I did myself a disservice at the beginning of the year by setting savings goals which were out of reach. Not being able to achieve my savings goals left me feeling pretty down about my financial situation which, in turn, forced me to go after (and not reach) some other big goals. Had I just set smaller, more realistic goals in all areas of my life at the beginning of the year, I’d probably feel a lot better about where I am today than I do right now.
And that’s ridiculous. I’ve accomplished some things in the last few years that I never could’ve dreamt of before. But my debt repayment journey left me with the mindset that you have to go big or go home – and there is zero balance in that approach. Sure, I have some big financial goals for my future, but I can’t make them happen overnight. So, in the next couple of weeks, you’re going to see a much more balanced budget, a list of revised savings goals for the year, and hopefully an even better attitude about the other areas of my life.
Have you had to revise any of your goals (finance or not) this year?