I used to smoke. Like a chimney. In the grand scheme, it wasn’t for long, maybe 7 years, but there’s no question I was hooked hard. When you’re amongst it, it’s hard to even imagine a life without it.
And when I finally quit, it was through words rather than prescriptions or substitutes. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking reverse-brainwashed me to rethink how I thought about smoking, and quitting smoking. One of the main premises of the short book is debunking the myth that our collective cultural consciousness promotes, that smoking is enjoyable and that once hooked, those who quit will feel that sense of deprivation forever. And many do, which is why it is so hard to quit so often.
But Carr suggests that if we see through what is largely a giant marketing campaign, and get real about smoking, we see that by quitting we will gain two of the most important things, health and wealth (which I take to mean financial independence, not an unnecessarily large net worth). Once you make that switch in a real and meaningful way in your mind, it’s all gravy. It becomes a game, and once there is a glimmer that the game is winnable, well. #winning
And you can apply that to fitness. Think of the health and the beach body gained rather than the pain of the treadmill. Focus on it. Meditate on it. Once your mental reward is aligned with your goals, you are basically brain-washed to move towards them rather than mindlessly away from them.
And this can extend to all parts of our lives, including, yes, our finances. When you see things you didn’t buy as more savings and more future freedom rather than feeling deprived of a shiny new thing, the pain of not having washes away and the feeling of plenty (and in the long run) rolls over you.
One idea I’ve used recently is keeping some sort of a ‘not spent’ journal where I not only track my spending habits, but also track how much I avoided spending by choosing not to or making an alternative and more cost-effective purchase. When you see that number, and the compounding interest it will earn you over your lifetime if invested rather than spent, the snowball effect will be in full form.
Heck, You can even tie fitness and finance together. If saving and retiring early is what is motivating you, then use that to get more fit, which will save you more than anything else in the future, arguably. You could ride your bike more and maybe even sell your car, as a way of coupling these goals. I mean, what’s the point in saving if you will be spending most of your nest egg on medical expenses and prescription drugs to keep you going? But if that is your plan, well, you should really get to saving.
So, when it comes down to it, all you have to do is to think of the freedom gained in your life by not spending on that thing you don’t need so that you can work more and not be able to use that thing you already didn’t need. Simple, right? The trick is in making that meaningful to you. Making that important. Making that a core value. Without that, finding the consistent motivation will be difficult. In the long run, you can depend on well-founded principles and the discipline to implement them steadfastly much more reliably than you can on finding more and more motivation each and every day.
So where did you save this week? And have you figured out how you’re going to put that savings to work towards your future of financial freedom?