I thought I’d try something a little different today. I’m dedicating a blog post to a problem I’m having and then turning it over to my readers to for help. If it goes well, I may just turn it into an ongoing series.
I have a problem. It surfaces after I pick and then focus on a long-term goal. First, it was to become debt free. For eight years I myopically chased this pursuit. Now, I’m focused on Financial Independence and am looking at another decade before we are in striking distance.
These are great goals and my life is richer for setting and pursuing them. However, the time line leads to periods of discouragement.
Discouragement During the Debt Free Journey
I’ve written about the importance of Immersion when trying to make a change in your life. This was certainly a tool I utilized during our journey to debt freedom. I’ve also given you the mathematical trick I used to stay motivated during this period.
However, despite these tools, our 8-year journey to debt freedom had its fair share of lulls as well. Maintaining intense levels of motivation over such a long period of time is challenging if not impossible.
There were numerous times throughout this process where we took the foot off the gas and coasted for a while. I think this is just part of the process.
The problem is when these periods of coasting lead to negative momentum. When we made progress and paid off large chunks of debt, we felt encouraged and it was easy to keep pushing forward.
But then a medical bill would pop up or Christmas spending would get in the way. That’s when we started to coast. Unable to make larger payments towards the debt for a few months, our restricted life and lack of progress combined to form the mental hurdle of discouragement.
This usually didn’t last for more than a couple months at a time, but having 2 or more bouts discouragement in a year quickly adds up. Spending a third to a half of your year discouraged about the goal you’ve set for yourself is no way to live.
Don’t get me wrong; these periods of discouragement didn’t have me on the verge of depression. I was able to enjoy all of the other aspects of my life. It wasn’t hugely disruptive to the rest of my functioning.
However, I’m struggling with if it is a necessary part of the process or if it is something I can find a way to overcome.
Financial Independence (FI) Journey
Our FI journey has followed a similar emotional path. Long time line..check. Disrupted progress by life’s inevitable financial anomalies..check. Feeling discouraged…check.
Maybe discouragement is the wrong word for our FI journey. Impatience seems more accurate. I know we’ll achieve FI and I don’t have doubts like “is it worth it?” the way I did with our debt free journey.
But I do go through periods of impatience. Wanting to be further along than we are. Wanting to begin planning our life after FI, but knowing so much will change in the next decade that planning anything now would be premature.
The Dark Side of Immersion
I soon realized the impatience I felt was an unintended consequence of immersion. While I continue to thoroughly believe in the value of immersion when trying to achieve a goal, I’m beginning to see its dark side.
This impatience is partly a personality flaw, but I also think it is fueled by surrounding myself with others who are further along in their FI journey or who have already achieved FI.
I will continue to read my fellow freedom seeking bloggers and listen to the FI podcasts. The benefits I get from these resources far outweigh this minor drawback. But I do need to find a way to shift my mindset away from this impatience.
Short Term Goals
I know that the logical solution is to create short or moderate term goals that will be more achievable and offer a sense of accomplishment.
While I do set short-term goals, I have a hard time feeling good about these milestones when I know achieving them is just a drop in the bucket of the “real goal”.
These short-term goals tend to be the worst of both worlds. I gain very little encouragement from achieving them and feel even more discouraged if I don’t reach it in the time frame I’ve set for myself.
So I’m turning to my loyal readership and seeking your sage wisdom. How do you navigate your long-term goals? How to do avoid the pitfalls of impatience and discouragement when the timeline for achieving your goal is years rather than months?