Perfection is something that I thought could be obtained in some way. Actually, it almost caused me to quit writing this blog.
One of the reasons that I blogged so infrequently was because I was always trying to create the “perfect” blog post. Well, I’m here to tell you that perfection does not exist. It doesn’t exist in life, blogging and even finances.
“Once you accept the fact that you’re not perfect, then you develop some confidence.” ~ Rosalynn Carter
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create the perfect blog post, have it quoted on various websites and have someone hand me a trophy (well, not really). You know what, that mentality caused me to not write at all! Pretty weird right? I wanted to be one of the best bloggers I could, yet I didn’t write. Makes a ton of sense! Seeking the unattainable caused me to not want to attain it.
Well, I am here to tell you that I am no longer seeking perfection. I won’t be seeking it with my writing or our finances. No more excuses. It’s just too stressful and unproductive. I’ve accepted the fact that I am not perfect and now I am going to build some confidence.
Enough about my life. So, how can you turn your finances around without seeking perfection?
Set Attainable Goals
If you have debt and finally come to the realization that it’s bad, you’re going to want to pay it all off in a hurry. Hell, when we first starting paying off our 150k, I was looking for the cure all medicine that could take care of the problem immediately. I wanted if gone, fast.
Unfortunately, you need to realize that there isn’t a magic debt elimination pill and it’s going to be a long and rough road. In order to make it easier, you need to set some attainable goals. Dave Ramsey tells you to list your debts from smallest to largest and then start working on the smallest of the bunch. That will allow you to reach certain financial victories much faster and it will give you some much needed confidence.
Reward Yourself Every Now and Then
When you do something awesome, reward yourself. I’m not talking about taking a trip to Hawaii here, but go out to eat with your spouse or catch a movie. My wife and I do this frequently due to the fact that we have so much debt. If we just sat on our asses all day every day watching our debt slowly go down, we would go insane. Sometimes you just need that interaction that getting out of the house does for you.
Another great tip would be to visualize the reward. If you have a special treat in mind, print out a picture and hang it on your fridge. Seeing it everyday will cause you to go that extra mile to save a few bucks here and there.
Follow People Just Like You
If I had to guess, I would say that most of you have some debt. It’s probably not 150k like us, but it feels like a lot nonetheless. Subscribing to blogs, going to Financial Peace classes and commenting on websites are great ways to get an extra boost in you financial plan. If you just sit on your butt and do nothing, you are doomed and won’t make any progress.
You’re doing the right thing subscribing to this blog. I hope that what my wife and I do financially helps you get through your troubles. Our ability to pay off debt should give you a ton of encouragement in your financial life. Just stick with it and you will see amazing results!
“The perfect is the enemy of the good.” So great job realizing that none of us are perfect and we’re all doing the best we can! Looking for perfection can paralyze us into inaction.
And thanks for the reminder to treat ourselves at milestones – my hubby and I have passed the “paid off $10,000” mark (still $38,000 to go) and need a chance to pat ourselves on the back.
Hang in there and thanks for the article!
Yeah, my inaction was really beginning to get old! Thanks for the quote!
Oh, and congrats on the milestone! Since our debt is so large, a big milestone for us will be 50k. Kind of sad, right? 😉
We are currently taking a break from our debt retirement to have our 3rd child. We eliminated half of it in 3 months and it feels so good. I’m still going to continue saving during our break though.
I am looking forward to your “good” blog posts. Good sounds pretty perfect to me. What is perfect in the context of personal finance anyway?
Good question. All income and no expenses? 🙂
Great post! I’m very much a ‘type-A’ personality, so seeking perfection is something I can definitely relate to. I think it’s good for a person to give his/her best when doing something. After all, isn’t that all we are capable of doing as humans?
I would say perfection is more relative than non-existent. In other words, your definition of perfect is most likely different than my definition of perfect. Even then, when we have the ‘perfect’ scenario all mapped out in our heads, it’s often only achievable through idealistic goals: goals that are usually only achievable based on a controlled, predictable environment. Guess what? We don’t live in a bubble. Life happens. Things don’t go as planned. Planning is definitely a good thing, but flexibility is a MUST as well. Ideal (perfect) goals tend to incorporate the former; whereas, attainable goals tend to include both.
Not only does perfection favor idealistic goals over attainable goals, it also tends to omit rewarding yourself for the progress you’ve made. For example, my idea of a ‘perfect’ debt reduction plan would be to pay off my debt as fast as possible (again, there are a lot of relative terms here, but bear with me). If I were to reward myself for paying something off, wouldn’t that be a strike against the plan? How could I pay off my debt ASAP if I’m spending money on myself? The perfect plan would say to pay off more debt rather than spend the money on yourself. That said, I agree that rewarding yourself is very important. It keeps you motivated and gives you some time to breathe and to rehydrate your system in the middle of the debt reduction marathon you’ve been running.
Again, great post. I too am looking forward to what’s coming up next.
When working toward our goals, we occasionally go out for a $1 movie and dinner out at an inexpensive, fast food place when we’ve paid something off. The whole night out runs about $12 & we really feel that we’ve had a great night out. Being in a larger town, this works for us! Yet we stay focused on the next milestone…
Adam, I have to say you’re an inspiration to many of us that read your blog on a regular basis. What you said about it being “too stressful and unproductive” hit the matter right on the head.
Once you make an unachievable goal it’s so easy to fall apart and revert back to doing nothing. I’ve fallen into this trap so many times before reaching a system that worked for me.
What I love so much about the personal finance blogosphere is that we’re all on the same journey. Some of us are further along than others, but personal finance is a lifelong journey that never ends.
Congrats on reaching your $50k mark soon Adam, a truly great achievement.
First off, let me say that it was a pleasure meeting you last week in Washington DC!
I, too, often find myself tied up in knots, stuck in a state of inaction, because I am afraid of failure (and/or perfection).
Thanks for the inspirational post! It is a terrific affirmation that it is good to be just, well, good!
By the way, did you intentionally write your fourth sentence the way you did when you said:
“Well, I’m hear (sic) to tell you that perfection does not exist.”
If not, it was a nice touch anyway! 😉 LOL
All the best,
Len Penzo dot Com
It was great meeting you too. You have a great family!
Oh, and that was a grammatical error. It’s fixed now!
Gosh darn it, Adam! You were supposed to play along with me and say you were being clever! 🙂 LOL
Ironic that you specifically mention a trip to Hawaii since that’s where I’ve been the past week and a half and am sitting right now! 😉
Perfection…Its in the eye of the beholder, my friend. It does exist, if a person is willing to accept reality. I think the problem with perfection is not perfection itself but in believing there is something beyond perfection. It is the belief that there is more and better, when the reality is simply that, well, there isn’t. What is, is…and that is perfection. Our minds play tricks on us. We are conditioned to feel like our best is not enough, that our abilities are weak and need to be improved. We’re wrong!
What we should actually strive for is realizing that perfection surrounds us, even in the flaws, and that reality is perfection. Sitting here in Hawaii, a couple minutes walk from the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, I could walk down the beach and step on peices of coral that washed up on the beach, hurting my feet. I could tell myself “THIS isn’t what I expected Hawaii to be like!” Instead, I tell myself “THIS is Hawaii and it is exactly as it should be.”
Creativity might be different from accepting life’s flaws and reality despite our imaginations since we have control over what is being produced but if you are seeking absolute perfection without producing anything, what good is that? Clearly you’ve realized this and good for you! Looking back at many of my oldest blog posts, I ask myself what in the world I was thinking! At the time I thought what I was writing was good, I spent a lot of time writing those articles but now they don’t seem as good as they once were and surely what I write today won’t be as good as I thought it was a year from now.
Enjoy the flaws for they are what make us grow as individuals. They give us character and make us less…sterile. We are human and therefore prone to error, and without error we are unable to expand our experiences and understanding.
Keep up the good work! 🙂
What you described is kind of how I dealt with my blog posts. They were “perfect” in my mind but I was trying to look at it through the eyes of every single person that visits this site. You know what, you can’t make everyone happy and there is always going to be someone somewhere that criticizes my writing and how we handle our finances. I just have to learn how to accept it.
I found your blog post through a link up from Frugal Dad…. so it was “perfect” enough to get linked up! 🙂 I think I’ll go look at the rest of your blog because I enjoyed this one very much.
Well, welcome! I’m glad you stopped by.
I should let you know that there are better things to come. The posts from the past aren’t the greatest but they got the job done!
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The part where you mentioned how your goals should be attainable is probably the most important. Many times, people set up budgets that are really meant to be for machines and they find themselves frustrated in the end. And then they give up the strict budgets they have set up.
Some breathing room is a must have in any spending plan. There are always things that come up in life that you don’t have any control over, and you need that extra cushion in your budget to allow that necessary variable spending.
And the goals of course gives purpose to your budget. What else would be the point of saving so much money? Not to give love to your bank account, but to either pay off your debt, or (even better), that vacation, car, TV, etc. that you’ve been wanting for quite some time.
Hey Adam, just go out there and write man! Write on your site and do what you will. It’s funny to me that others care SO MUCH about what other people think, when it’s their own site!
If you speak words every day, you can certainly write every day too yeah?
Go for it!