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Managing Motivation

By Kyrk Davis


I work with a lot of younger client families and couples who come out of school with some lofty goals. They get started paying off their student loans, saving to buy their first home, and setting up their first retirement savings account.

After a few years of hard work and dedication, many people achieve these goals. Student loan debt has been traded for a mortgage, the retirement account is building, and life is pretty good. This is where I often see motivation to keep working hard, financially, start to wane.

From my own experience, it's easier to make progress when there's a goal right in front of my face. Forgoing a fancy dinner and deciding to eat at home was an easy choice when I saw the progress it made in paying off the student loans. Driving my old car was a no-brainer if it meant I could save that car payment towards the down payment on our house. That's all behind me now, and at this point, my next major goal is retirement. With a goal that's three-plus decades away, how do I - and my clients - stay motivated?

I like to think of it as I do a long run. I love fitness, and I love pushing myself. But when I'm starting a long race or training run, I don't focus on the finish line. That's too far away. I create mini goals along the route, like trying to make it to the next intersection or aid station in X number of minutes. Breaking a long, grueling race into smaller goals helps me not feel overwhelmed, or lose my motivation.

I encourage my clients to plan their finances in the same way. For example, I like to help people plan backwards to determine where they might aim to be at a certain age, or set net worth goals and track them regularly. Like those student loans or that first home, these are goals that are closer and more clearly in focus, and progress can be tracked in a more tangible way. This keeps my fire lit and keeps me motivated, and I've seen it work with my clients too.

What's your next big financial goal? Are you feeling overwhelmed when facing some of your long-term goals? Give us a call. I'd be glad to sit down and help you make them feel more manageable.

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