Some of you may remember the daunting and very overwhelming task of learning to drive a stick. I actually went through it twice myself. Once for a regular car, then again to receive my Class A CDL driver’s license.
My fear of messing up was really keeping me from wanting to learn. Who wants to willingly sit in the driver seat of a vehicle with a clutch and continuously hear that annoying grinding sound that seems to say, “You are a failure!” At least that’s what it felt like under the pressure, especially when learning to drive a big rig with “100” gears to grind.
I see getting out of debt as the same kind of process. You might feel overwhelmed and scared to face the facts about your situation which not only prolongs the ride, but keeps you from really addressing it.
If you want to get out of debt and transform your financial situation you try addressing these three things.
PSYCHOLOGY: Get Over Your Fears
We are the biggest obstacles in our way! There is a lot that goes into the fear that keeps you stagnate in your efforts to try something different. Stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy but it must be done if you want to reach your goals. Your fear of sacrifice and change are strangling your future. Get over those fears so you can get moving to a more relaxing place. It is truly worth it in the end.
Exercise: Write down a list of all the changes you would need to make to become debt free? What is it that scares you the most about implementing them? Do you think you would be more or less scared if you were to reach retirement with a boat load of debt?
ACTION: Just Do It
Sometimes the best way to get in gear is to just push the clutch, jam the stick into gear, rev the engine and go. This is especially useful if you’re trying to take of while stopped on an incline. If you answered “more scared” in the previous exercise, you should be ready to get down to business. Once you conquer your fears, the next step is clearly about taking action. It’s so easy to procrastinate on important issues but the best thing you can do is to go for it! The key is not putting it off for another second. Take the plunge, it’s totally worth it!
Exercise: Write a list of all the reasons you should be taking action right now. Why would you like to become debt free? What would your life be like if you were? How would it feel? Get emotional and then GO GET IT!!
DETERMINATION: Practice Makes Perfect
Remember how much easier driving a manual transmission got after time? Before long, it was second nature. Practice makes perfect is a constant theme in my house. My 5-year-old is at a point where when something starts to get hard, his first instinct is to move on to something else. I am constantly saying to him, “Practice makes what?” He then finishes the sentence by saying “perfect.” I feel it is important to remind him of this because giving up is the one thing that will keep him from achieving his dreams in life. I like to emphasize the fact that as you do something over and over again it becomes easier and easier. This applies to getting out of debt, too. Just keep going and your past success will become a bigger and bigger motivator. Plus, the steps you’re taking to pay off your debt will become more and more routine, making them less painful.
Exercise: Write a list of your financial weaknesses. It could be five it could be twenty. The point is to be completely honest. You can’t practice getting better at something you’ve told yourself you don’t need to improve on. Whether it be your budgeting skills or your out of control spending –- practice, practice, practice.
Day after day, I climbed into the big truck determined to get better and better. With each passing day I heard a little less grinding as well as more relief from the guy in the passenger seat. The truth is that in the beginning, (probably the first day), I actually walked away from the truck with no intention of ever returning. Luckily though, I had an instructor that understood what I was going through. No matter how many times I messed up, he knew I would eventually learn.
Two weeks after I began, I passed my Class A CDL driving test with flying colors and without grinding a single gear.
The point is this: At one point in time, I thought my task was impossible. I told myself it wasn’t worth the hassle. I almost kept myself from achieving my goal. Good thing I didn’t listen to myself.
Are you standing in the way of your debt freedom? What’s holding you back? Share in the comments and get the support of our community. What advice do you have for people just getting started?
Brad Chaffee is a PerkStreet Customer Columnist who also authors Enemy of Debt, a place where he passionately but candidly tackles the psychological issues related to our own habits and behaviors regarding money. Brad and his family crawled out from under $26,000 of debt and some major bad habits to become debt-free in 20 months, and he believes that if they can do it, you can too! Aside from his blog, you can connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.