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Fighting Boredom and Restlessness as You Work on Long-Term Goals

Submitted by on April 29, 2013 – 11:44 am 39 Comments

Are you “Stick-to-it-iveness”ly Challenged?

One of the hardest parts, for me, of our “Getting Out of Debt” Plan has been dealing with the fact that I’m a bit ADHDish.  My mind is constantly hopping around from one thing to another, and although new and great ideas come often and easy to me, sticking with them through to the end is a whole other issue.  I get bored easily and need to switch gears a lot.

Our process of paying off debt has been a similar experience for me.  At first, I was just plain excited.  Conquering our debt and our spending issues was a challenge, and I’m a “bring it on” type of a girl.  In that first month or two, I stayed excited as I watched the numbers go down, both in our spending and our debt, and as I saw our financial picture changing for the better.

Enter month 5, and I’m kinda getting “bored with that”.  We’ve got the spending thing down now to where budgeting, spend tracking and being thrifty comes naturally to our family.  It’s a piece of cake now to make a decision about whether or not to spend, as the frugal mindset is now ingrained in all of us, likely for forever.  The paying down of debt is just going to take time, so we’ve decided not to worry about that, knowing that as long as we continue on our current path of putting every extra dime toward debt payoff, that we’ll get there eventually.

The problem?  This kind of lack of enthusiasm for your goal, whatever it is, can lead you to dump your plan by the wayside real quick-like, and for us especially, as we dig out of a massive hole of debt, that…is….NOT….good.

So what can you do if you’re getting bored with the process of achieving your long-term goals?

1.  Remind Yourself “Why”.  Why did you make your long-term goal and its plan in the first place?  There was likely something that drove you to make a plan and take action to change whatever it was that you felt needed changing.  Go back and find that motivational list (YES, you have to have a list) and study it, igniting the passion that you used to have for your goal.

2.  Research.  Find new people/information to connect with or read about who have “been there, done that” and are now enjoying the benefits of sticking with their plan.  For me, it helps to read success stories like Tony’s post over at We Only Do This Once on how he quit his day job.  Tony and his family worked hard for almost two years, sacrificing LOTS so that they could pay off their debt.  This lead to Tony’s being able to give his notice at his day job and focus on work that was more gratifying to him.  He wouldn’t have been able to make this major life change had they not committed that two years to paying off debt.

Search the Net and other places (check out our Blogroll for links to great motivators) to seek out people who have already accomplished what you are trying to accomplish and are now reaping the benefits.  It’ll likely provide lots of motivation and help you get your groove back as far as reaching your goal.

3.  Get logical.  Sometimes we get bored/lose motivation for long term goals such as paying off debt or weight loss/fitness goals because it feels like winning will just never happen.  Remind yourself that no goal worth achieving happens over night, and that those who are now successful in whatever they do have reached success because of the years they spent doing the mundane and often discouraging stuff needed to reach their goals.

If you’re stuck in a rut of boredom or discouragement right now, please don’t give up.  You’re standing at a very, very important crossroads right now – one that, depending on which road you take, will indeed determine your success or failure.  You, your family – you deserve to win here, so stand strong and take the road that will lead you to your dreams!

39 Comments »

  • I am so flattered that you included me here! Ultimately, our life change was a mindset switch; very different than a one-shot deal. MY attitude towards life energy vs. money has been changed forever…and I am so much happier!

    • Laurie says:

      Isn’t it true, Tony? It just turns into a lifestyle thing, a wonderful one! Thanks again for sharing your story on your site – it was great!

  • Matt Becker says:

    So true that we often start out fast, only to get bored or discouraged or whatever and flame out. Your self-awareness about this is really impressive and I think will really serve you well. Another option, besides the three good ones you wrote about, is to let yourself celebrate milestones. It doesn’t have to be lavish, but maybe you treat yourself to something for every $1000 of debt you repay. Or whatever milestone works for you. It doesn’t have to be 100% sacrifice with no fun. Celebrating small victories can be encouraging.

    • Laurie says:

      Matt, that’s a great tip! Celebrating is SO important, isn’t it? Just as long as you find a way that doesn’t get you back into debt. :-)

  • It is so important to revisit your goals and to make sure that not only are you still on track, but to also check that they goals are still relevant. I like to set SMART goals so that I have defined time frames for my goals, otherwise they can drag on forever and nothing ever gets done.

    • Laurie says:

      Great point, Glen. I love the SMART goals too. In our case, with our large debt load, we didn’t figure out the time frame, as it would likely have been super long, but we did set specific goals such as “pay off cc #1 within a year”.

  • Michelle says:

    I always like to see how others have done it, just like you said. It gives me motivation!

  • Good post Laurie! I would agree on all of the points, especially #1. Without that “why” or motivation you’re likely to get lost in the weeds and possibly give up. I am a big visionary myself and if you do not keep that vision in front of you, then you’re just harming yourself.

  • Great post. Some goals are hard to stick to if they take forever to achieve. Paying off my house comes to mind! You’re right that it’s important to stay focused and remind yourself of your goals on a daily basis.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s a good example, Holly, the mortgage payoff. Just think, though, how great it’ll feel when you’re done with it!

  • I did a lot of research when I was getting out of debt. I also had a handy white board that I created motivational sayings and put my total’s on. It helps me to visualize things and watching my debt drop down was a huge factor for me.

    • Laurie says:

      Love the whiteboard idea, Grayson. Sounds like you and I work a lot alike. The research really helps me to stay on track too. Thanks for sharing your tips. :-)

  • Good post! It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. But as you said, after months of doing it, thrifty comes naturally. Automating our finances has really helped us stay on track of our goals, because we don’t really have to think about it. Now if I could only figure out a way to automatically get myself back into the gym and plop me on a treadmill… hmmm…

  • Mackenzie says:

    Reading other PF blogs and seeing how other people are conquering their debt, helps to keep me motivated :)

  • This is why I try to budget in some fun stuff. Because I know that I’ll get crazy bored being a shut in and saving every penny.

    • Laurie says:

      Yes, getting out and doing fun stuff is SO important, isn’t it? Being we have so much debt to get rid of yet, we are focusing mostly free or super cheap fun stuff.

  • Staying motivated can be extremely difficult when your goal is so far away, but it is crucial. Your tips here are great and definitely help. I also like looking at how far we’ve come. That tends to give you a little validation that you’re doing the right thing and should keep going.

  • Sicorra says:

    I know what you mean Laurie about getting bored once things are running on auto-pilot. I sometimes have days where my mind thinks, I just wish this was over and done with. Perhaps if you find something new and challenging that you and your family can do it will take your mind off of things. I would guess that once it gets nicer out you will have lots to do around your new home, no?

  • I think a lot of people trying to get out from under debt face exactly what you’re going through right now, Laurie. Debt didn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t go away overnight (no matter how much we wish it did!). I know you and your family are in it for the long haul and there will certainly be days where you will feel like quitting. Thankfully, you have a good support system to to keep you motivated and listen when you need to vent too.

    • Laurie says:

      You’re so right, Shannon. We are very blessed to have that great support system – I know that’s a huge factor in helping us to push through. :-)

  • My wife and I are in a holding pattern for paying off her med school loans (loans still subsidized), but I know I will have to keep these things in mind as we start to attack the debt. I think what will work best for me is to keep it front and center to remind myself to limit any other spending and what the ultimate goal is.

    • Laurie says:

      Great plan, Greg. Put away every extra dime right now so that you’ve got that lump sum to put toward paying off the loans when the time comes. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that every single dime makes a difference!

  • Just reminded me to take a step back and consider the larger reasons for the small steps. Thanks!

  • I don’t know what you’re–oh, look! A squirrel!

    More seriously, though, I remind myself that the drudgery is the most important part and mentally reward myself for small accomplishments.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh, you are SO speaking my language, LOL! I think the small accomplishment reward is crucial, Jenny. Makes all of the difference here, anyway!

  • Justin says:

    It sounds like you’re writing about me. I’m exactly the same way. I find that switching things up a bit helps me stick to things when it starts getting boring. Like making a game out of whatever it is or setting fun type goals.
    Good luck on your journey out of debt Laurie.

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, funny. That must be why your advice, such as putting up charts, always works so well for me.:-) It seems that there’s alot of us out there, Justin. Yes, I think I will work on switching it up a bit now and finding new ways to stay motivated. Thanks for the tip!

  • If there’s no “why” it’s really easy to lose the vision and give up on fighting the debt. When I was paying off my student debt I literally had a little poster with my debt “number” on the fridge and the words “my first home” under the number. As I paid off the debt I kept re-writing the number. Sounds funny, but it worked. I knew once I paid off the debt I could start saving for a down payment on a house.

  • Track your progress and watch as your overall debt is reduced. I have a chart posted that as I pay it off I fill in more of it so I can see how much I have paid off overall. Like you said it’s slow progress but it’s good to have reminders.

    • Laurie says:

      Hi Jennifer! We have a chart too, with a little thermometer. It’s really helped us to stay motivated as we watch the red rise. :-)

  • Great post! I can relate to this post because I have set fitness goals in the past and haven’t been able to achieve them because I wasn’t seeing results fast enough. You are so right- you will not see results over night and it truly takes time for you to achieve a goal. I am still in college so I don’t quite know what it’s like to be in debt but I’m sure it goes along the same as any other goal- it takes patience and time.

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