Lots of people suggest that the best way to motivate yourself is to have a big goal. You know, like a house that you want to buy, or a vacation that you want to take. You’re supposed to picture yourself doing it and then ask whether you want the house/vacation/whatever more than the pair of shoes in the window, or the meal out.
I’m not sure why, but that’s never worked for me.
The thing about saving towards a goal is that it needs to be of a certain size. One that is neither too easy, nor too hard. It also has to be something that you really want.
I’d love to travel overland from London to Singapore over 4-6 months. I reckon it would cost me in the region of £7k-£10k plus expenses in the UK of around £3k-£5k. Which is sort of doable if I really try singlemindedly for 3-5 years.
Only, I don’t want to give up my job, blog, house or oboe for 4-6 months. Nor do I want to cut back on the fun that I do have. I’d love to do it, but I don’t want it enough to sacrifice for as long as that.
I’m rubbish at this too. I’m not too bad at keeping to a generous budget, but if I have to really cut back a lot, I can’t keep it up for long. Like crash dieting, in the long run it seems to make things worse.
Mostly, I actually feel like I don’t have that much to sacrifice. I keep relatively well to an allowance, I don’t normally have a penchant for wild impulse buys. Undoubtedly my money leaks in small ways, but for me, right now, life is too short. As long as I spend less than I earn and save/invest the difference I’m ok.
the plonkee way?
I kind of half-heartedly motivate myself. I’m tired all the time. I really like everything that I do, it’s just that I spend too much time at work. In an ideal world, I’d only work 3 or 4 days a week.
The plan (formulated a year ago, more or less) is to maintain my income at around the level it currently is (inflation adjusted) and get payrises/promotions at work until I’m in a position to be able to only work 4 days a week.
This means being happy with the amount that I currently live on as a more or less permanent thing. So, I need to make sure that I spend (within my budget) on the things that I want to do because I’m not all that likely to find a magic way to afford them in the future either.
It means working for a promotion. (Another one). I’m earning around 15% less than I need to be to make the 4 day week thing work.
It’s a goal of sorts, but the whole point for me is that it isn’t one that I need to wave in front of myself to stop me buying. It’s got to be much, much more integrated than that. It means being happy with now and not waiting for the future, because the future’s going to look much the same but with more sleep and fun stuff.
It means working out how to live my ideal life with the budget I have now. Since travel is important to me, I’m taking regular budget trips abroad. I’m going to comedy clubs, meeting friends for drinks, and wearing clothes that suit me.
Now, is just as important as the future. That’s what motivates me.