Reading Time: 9 minutes

Worthwhile Goals Can Be Hard To Achieve

Have you ever set a goal but struggled to achieve it? If so, you are not alone.

For example, many people who enter debt review with the goal of getting out of debt, drop out of the process. Some drop out as early as the 2nd month. Others stick with the process for 3 years, and then suddenly fall off the bandwagon.

Maybe you have had other goals in the past, like exercising regularly or losing some weight.

If you currently have a goal that are working on, but have not yet achieved it, it is important that you know that you are not a failure. If you are working on it, (yes, even intermittently) then you are making progress.

Even reaching a simple goal often requires a lot of time and hard work’

Even reaching a simple goal often requires a lot of time and hard work. The fact that you still want to reach your goal, shows that you want to give your best.

Let’s take a look at how you can set and reach realistic goals, such as paying off your debt. While the thoughts in the article may also apply to other goals, let’s talk about debt and debt review in particular.

Set Realistic Goals

It is important that you do not expect more from yourself than what you can realistically achieve, that would be foolish.

Your goals should be reasonable, according to what your current circumstances allow you to achieve.

For example, if you have a lot of debt, it would be unrealistic to set yourself the goal of paying it all off in one go, or after just a few months. Often, credit providers add so much interest to debts, it can feel like you will never catch up.

No, it would be much more realistic to plan to repay that debt over a longer time period. This is why in debt review, debts are often paid off over 60 months, although credit providers might ideally want them settled within a year or 18 months.

Motivation Is Vital

Motivation plays a key role in reaching any goal.

A motivated person has a strong incentive or desire to work toward their goals.

Having strong motivation is like a strong wind that pushes a sailboat toward its destination. If the wind carries on blowing, the sailor will definitely reach their destination, and with a strong wind, they may even arrive sooner than expected.

In the same way, the more motivated we are, the more likely we are to reach our goals.

So, what can you do to feel more motivated?

Focus On Your Goal Daily

Even just thinking about and talking about your goal can help you increase your motivation to achieve it.

Sharing your goals with others can also help motivate you to reach them. As a bonus, once your family and friends know about your goals, they may be able to offer practical support in achieving them.

Think About Your Progress

When you see that you have already made progress (even if only a little progress) it can help you build your desire to follow through and keep going.

For example, checking your statements monthly during debt review can help you see how far you have already come.

Many plans are designed over 60 months, what month are you on? Can you track your progress? It will help build your motivation to keep on making progress.

Even if you have just started the process, that is massive. Asking for help and getting it is a very big step towards success. Now it is just up to you to keep going.

Focus On The Benefits

Have you thought about what it will be like to not owe anyone anything? Not one cent.

You may never be a millionaire (we wish!) but hardly anyone these days can even say they are debt free, but you could be.

So, keep thinking about what that would mean for your life. Imagine being able to use every cent that you earn for your own benefit. Never having to check balances and wonder if your payments will go off this month. No moving funds from one card to another.

Imaging never having to worry about scary collections calls, emails or letters.

Focus on these benefits, and you will feel more and more determined to stick with your goal to get out of debt.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

If you spend time with people who are sick, it is likely that you too will become sick, this is something the COVID 19 pandemic taught us.

Spending time with people who waste money or do not spend wisely, can also have a bad influence on us and can rub off on us. Instead, spend time with people who also want to live a debt free lifestyle, and are not focused solely on what they own.

Not Feeling Motivated?

Realistically, though, we all have days when we do not feel motivated.

Sometimes when things are tough, you may begin to think of debt review as the problem, rather than the solution. Does this mean you are going to fail?

No, in the olden days when sailors were at sea, one day the wind would be strong and move them quickly, but other days it would be weak and they may not feel like they were making any progress.

On days like that, they may have had to take out the oars and start rowing themselves, so that they could keep making progress (even if it was just a little). Soon, they would move to an area with more wind and be underway at full speed.

‘your level of motivation may vary on different days, on some days, we may feel no motivation’

Our motivation can be like that wind; your level of motivation may vary on different days, on some days, we may feel no motivation to work on getting out of debt. But if we were to work towards our goal only when we felt motivated, we might never actually reach it. Rather, we need to be like ye olde time sailors, and find other ways to make a little progress, even when not motivated. This may mean we need to be strict with ourselves and show self-discipline but the results are worthwhile.

Consider The Benefits To Family & Friends

When we have lots of debt it can be difficult to be generous to our family and friends. We constantly have to count pennies. It always hurts to have to say no to your kids when they want something, or to have to skip going out with friends because we just can’t afford to.

If you had no debt, then this would not be the case. We could afford to be more generous (within reason, of course). So, consider how achieving your goal of getting out of debt will also benefit your family and friends.

Self Control Is Needed

Self-control is the ability to control one’s feelings and actions.

Self-control is also required in order to move us to accomplish a task especially if it is difficult, or if we do not feel motivated.

The ability to ‘push through’ the tough times or times when you do not feel motivated will help you reach your goal. It can also help you in other areas of your life.

So, sometimes you will need to be strict with yourself and just do what needs to be done, even when you don’t really feel like it. Developing this quality is vital for success.

There Is Never A Good Time

When setting a goal, it is important to know that there is never going to be a perfect time to start.

Do not wait for perfect circumstances, if you wait for the right time to get out of debt, well, you never will. You can always find a reason to put it off. Another unplanned expense, another obligation that needs to be sorted out.

Even those already in debt review, face this challenge.

If you have a goal, like saving some money each month towards annual expenses (like a car license or back to school items) then don’t wait till next month, just start now. Otherwise next month, will turn into the month after that and you will never save anything.

If you have a goal then today is the day to start working on it.

Start Small

We may lack motivation because our goal seems too hard to achieve.

Remember when you thought about getting out of debt? That was a massive goal that probably seemed impossible. So, you simply took the first step and asked someone for advice. From there, you were able to get help to set small monthly goals towards paying off your debts.

If your goals seem too big, can you break down your goal into smaller ones?

A baby does not start off running. Even Usain Bolt had to learn to crawl before he could run.

When You Experience Setbacks

Unfortunately, no matter how motivated or disciplined we are, we may still have setbacks.

For example, “unexpected events” may come along and kick us in the teeth. Our best laid plans can go off the rails. When that happens it can drain us of confidence and motivation.

What can help us to deal with a setback?

Setbacks Don't Mean That You Have Failed

If a runner trips and falls, do they just pack it up and head home, or do they get back up and carry on running. After all, they have made great progress and it would be a waste to now stop due to a temporary setback.

And yes, we may face many setbacks, but just like when we were babies learning to walk, our determination can help us to get back up over and over, and eventually reach our goal.

Setbacks Can Be Revealing

For example, did an appliance break down and how you need spend unplanned funds towards repairing or replacing. You may have to wait for several weeks before you can afford to do so, what an inconvenience. Still, it does show us the importance of setting aside a few rand each month towards the unplanned and unexpected. So, going forward, this can be part of your plan.

Even if it is hard, you now know see the benefits due to this setback.

You can reach your goal, just like a sailor who happily reaches his destination. But remember, many sailors also enjoy the journey.

Similarly, as you continue working toward your goal, do not forget to enjoy each day. Debt review as a process very much focuses on ensuring we have what we need to care for our family’s basic needs each month. 

So, even when progress towards settling all our debt is slow, we can enjoy having what we need and caring for our needs. This is not to be downplayed, it is vital.

You Can Achieve Your Goal Of Becoming Debt Free

It is important to have goals in life. Once you know what you are working towards, you can take practical steps to reach your goals.

Debt review in particular can help you reach your goal of becoming debt free. It can also help you cover your monthly running costs, while still slowly settling your debts.

So, if you have entered the process, think about all the progress you have already made, and focus on what it is going to be like when you get out of debt.

Even if you do have bad days where you don’t feel particularly motivated or where setbacks make things tough, please exercise self-control and stick with the process. Continue to chip away at your goal of becoming debt free and you will make progress one step at a time.

Having no debt is almost like being the richest person in the room these days. So, be determined to stick with the debt review process, and continue making progress towards whatever goals you set for yourself, it will be worth it!