Sunday, January 11, 2015

Motivating yourself for long-term goals

One of the hardest parts about my goal to pay off my loans is that it requires a lot of motivation, over a long time. To be able to put the majority of my discretionary spending money into my loans means delaying gratification each and every time I want something.

So how do I maintain my motivation? This is something I'm still working on, but here are a few tactics that I've found to be helpful so far in this process:

  1. Set shorter term goals - things like "increase my payment by $50 this month" or my resolution to be under $9,000 by the end of this year seem more manageable.
  2. Allow for small failures - in fact, I plan on small failures when calculating various scenarios for my repayment. There might be a month that I can't pay the full extra payment, and that's okay. I'll just have to find a way to get back on track.
  3. Plan how I'll reward myself - For the first month that I'm debt free, I'm planning to take half of my loan payment to treat myself. I'm not sure yet what that will look like, but you can bet I'm having a grand time thinking of ideas!
  4. Plan my next goals - after I finish paying, I have several savings goals and life goals I'd like to achieve, but I know I can't give them their due focus until I've crossed this one off the list.
  5. Don't delay all gratification - I think I would be miserable if I let myself believe that because I'm paying down loans, I can't enjoy myself. It's just a matter of striking a balance. I'm willing to work more hours if it means I can go on a couple of trips this year while also paying my loans. I'm willing to whittle down my entertainment budget if it means I can go out for drinks twice a month. I might feel differently in the home stretch, but for the time being, I can't imagine spending 2+ years without having any "fun" money to spend, and I don't want to!
These are just a few of the things that have been working for me. What do you find most motivating throughout the payment process? Feel free to share in the comments!

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