When I complain about my spending habits to people, I often hear that if I had some big financial goals, long-term saving plans and far-reaching dreams, I would stop spending. Instead, I would work towards achieving these great goals and grand ideas.
I was even asked if I know what my long-term financial goals are in this life. Hmmm… I said to myself then, let’s see:
- I want to retire with Beaker by the age of 55.
- I want us to be able to take long trips at least twice a year when we retire .
- I want to have a small house filled with five pugs and three cats.
- I want to retire in this house with Beaker and our pugs and cats.
- I want to feel secure in our retirement and never worry about money.
These are my ultimate financial goals. I also call them dreams.
Do they motivate me to stop spending and focus on saving? No.
I am not a marathon runner. I am a sprinter.
Some people focus on long-term goals that are exhausting marathons. Other people, like me, perform best under the stress of short but stimulating sprints.
While I love and understand the optimism of people who set long-term goals, I find the time frame of these goals depressing. The end result seems to be far away in the future: five or ten years from now. I find it daunting because I want to live and achieve right now.
I want to be able to travel while I can hike mountains without being bent over from the arthritic pain in my knees. I want to enjoy a zip-line without dropping my dentures in the jungles below me. I want to be able to stand in a long line at the Musée d’Orsay without leaning on my walker.
When it comes down to long-term goals:
- I cannot see the light at the end of the limitless time tunnel
- In the absence of light, hope evades me, enthusiasm fades, motivation eventually whimpers out.
Yes, I am intimidated and overwhelmed by big long-term goals. Mostly I fear their time frame. Instead of setting up five, six, ten year goals, I break down my plans and dreams into small but intensive sprints. Instead of saying where I am going to be in three years from now, I choose to decide where I want to be in six or three months from now.
A short but meaningful sprint requires planning and strategy.
It is the challenge that creates motivation. It is the drive that pushes me forward.
When I decided to visit my grandmother last year, I set myself a goal to save up a certain amount of cash for this trip. I did not want to charge a penny on the credit card. I had about five months to accomplish my sprint. Being a spender who likes to self-indulge in blissful shopping, I did run out of steam by the fifth month. The end result was very rewarding nevertheless.
In order to sprint and finish your sprint successfully :
- Focus on what is important right now.
- Visualize the end result – see the light
- Maintain your eye contact (focus) on that light (end result.)
- When running out of steam, give yourself a short break, slow down a little, take a breath and sprint again.