Step 93: Celebrate your Victories

Step 93 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Celebrate your Victories
Step 93 of the 100 steps mission: Celebrate your Victories

As we’ve discussed a few times, setting goals is one thing but achieving them is a whole different thing. Goals are usually easy to set and difficult to achieve (and require some real commitment and dedication) and this can be especially true for such radical goals as “quit smoking” or “exercise daily” that require an almost “all or nothing” attitude in which you either succeed or not.

Yet these type of goals have one big advantage over many long-term financial goals: it is easy to see how successful you are. Every hour you don’t smoke a cigarette is an immediate success: your goal is to stop smoking and your success is easily measured with a simple yes or no at the end of each hour: did I achieve it or not. The same is true for a goal such as “exercise more”: at the end of each day you can simply ask yourself: did I achieve this today? A yes will make you feel good, and a no will hopefully give you a kick up the bum to try again tomorrow.

Many financial goals don’t have this luxury: many are probably long-term goals and if you don’t see a lot of progress it might be difficult at times to keep your motivation up. Say your goals is to save together your $1,000 emergency fund. At the end of the day you can’t ask yourself: “did I save $1,000 today?”. Or imagine you’ve decided that you need to get $20,000 together for a down payment, that again will probably take you a fairly long time. What about “saving up for retirement”? How much are we talking about here? And how long will it take you to get that money together? With none of these goals you can say: I achieved this today!

As you continue on your journey to financial independence, your goals might become bigger and more abstract but let’s not forget that goals aren’t just for the future, they are also for the now. Focus on them now and you’ll achieve your future goals, forget about them now and nothing will come of them ever – not even in a million years. 

Even if you can’t achieve your goal on a daily basis, you can make them more tangible by not focussing on the end goal but on set milestones along the way. Make your goals an essential part of your day-to-day life, break them down into smaller steps and evaluate every day how you did on them. And here’s the most important part: celebrate your victories. Once you’ve got together half, a quarter or even just 10% of your $10,000 savings goal – celebrate. I am not talking about spending lots of money on a meal out in a super fancy restaurant (that might set you back 30% anyway). A celebration can be as big or as small as you want it to be: open a bottle of wine, make a day trip to somewhere special or go for a walk along the beach. But by celebrating your victory you keep yourself (and / or your partner or family) motivated which makes you appreciate what you have already achieved instead of focussing in what is still pending to be done. And you deserve it! You’ve made the effort to cut expenses or to increase your income. Being rewarded for your efforts makes you appreciate the result far more and it keeps your motivation up.

Regardless how big or small your goals are, in this step you’re going to break down the most important ones that you are working on and you are going to identify ways to celebrate, so that every day you can evaluate how well you did in getting closer to your goal. Have a look at some of the following ideas on how to celebrate:

  • $1,000 emergency fund: Celebrate when you get to $250, then at $500 and finally when you reach $1,000.
  • 6 months living fund: Celebrate every time you save 1 month.
  • Net worth: celebrate every time you increase your net worth by $5,000.
  • Debt: celebrate for every $2,500 you pay off.
  • Savings: celebrate every time you save $2,000 or your savings rate increases by 3%
  • Investing: celebrate every time your portfolio increases by $500

Depending on your goals, how much you manage to set aside and how far off you are from reaching your goals, adjust the ideas and figures to make them your own. As you can see you don’t have to wait until you pay off your entire mortgage before you celebrate. You can determine the milestones along the way at which to stop and celebrate. Think of it as a child going on a walk with his or her parents and being treated to a sweet after every 10 signposts they see along the way: It makes them celebrate the achievement but also keeps up motivated to keep going for the next reward.

Step 93 – celebrate your victories – in detail:

  • By now you’ve probably got quite a few goals gathered, some more immediate, others more for the mid-term or long-term future.
  • Gather all your goals together, and start with you most immediate 3 goals that you are working on.
  • Break down these goals into milestones. Determine how often you’d like to celebrate (more often for more difficult or challenging goals to achieve, maybe not as often for goals that you find easier).
  • Write down every single milestone, for example:
    • Paying off a $10,000 debt, you’ve decided that the milestones to celebrate are every $2,500. Write down all:
      • Outstanding balance down to $7,500
      • Outstanding balance down to $5,000
      • Outstanding balance down to $2,500
      • Outstanding balance down to $0
  • For every single small goal, determine a celebration. Of course they don’t all have to be different. In the example above you might open a nice bottle of wine for the first 3 milestones, then go out for a nice meal when you get to the last one. It’s not about being super creative, it is about celebrating and appreciating how far you’ve come each time.
  • Continue until you’ve broken down your 3 or 4 most important goals you are working on. Leave the other ones for now if you haven’t yet started working towards those goals – you’ll get to those every time you complete another goal. It will be fun to come up with new milestones and celebrations every time you move on to a new goal.

Looking back and appreciating what you have achieved is important to do at times, instead of just focussing what is still to be done and how far away from your goal you still are. By starting small you gain momentum and celebrating your victories will help you keep up that momentum and will give you the confidence in yourself, knowing that if you can save $100 then you can also save $1,000. And if you can do that, you can pay of your $10,000 debt. And if you can pay of your debt, then you can also pay down your mortgage… etc. Have fun celebrating!

Read more about my 100 steps mission to financial independence or simply decide to take control today and join us on our step-by-step quest on how to make your finances work for you, starting with step 1.

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