The things that are worth doing the most in life will often require perseverance. Consider what it takes to quit smoking or lose weight – big moves that often involve drastic changes in all areas of your personal life. The necessity of paying off large amounts of unsecured debt falls into this same category of life-altering events. When you face a debt problem head-on, the decision will often mean overhauling your finances and putting in place dramatic changes that will break the bad habits that put you into debt in the first place.
When the decision is finally made, it’s natural to start out with ambition. It’s easy to stick with a plan to rein in debt and curb spending, and you may even go the extra mile and make arrangements with your debtors to lower interest rates, cut up your credit cards and work within a budget. Once positive results are realized and your debt begins to drop, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation – for a time.
The most difficult part about making any life changing decision, is when the initial excitement wanes and you run into a situation where the change is difficult to manage. If you’re honest with yourself about the damage your debt is causing, you’ll know that it’s worth forging ahead rather than falling back into old habits. But staying motivated isn’t always easy and you’re bound to run into rough patches.
What to Expect – Staying On Track
Using the analogy of a long distance runner, getting out of debt will require practice, persistence and patience. You’re going to experience fatigue that will manifest itself as boredom and irritability. You may begin questioning why you’re putting yourself through the torment. If you slip up, don’t throw in the towel but get back on track. Determination and persistence need to be your ally and are positive attributes necessary to accomplish your goal. If you stop midway even for a moment, you will likely lose momentum and eventually fall back into your old ways of paying the minimum on a huge pile of debt.
Knowing that these feelings are normal will help you get past the temporary frustrations and back to focusing on why you’re doing this in the first place – to get out of debt!
A Change in Attitude
One helpful way to stick to a plan is to try and see the situation from a different perspective. Accept the challenge with a new can-do attitude.
- In It For The Long Haul – It will most likely take longer to get out of debt than it took for you to get into it. It’s simple logic; for example, one trip to the mall could result in a substantial amount of credit that could take months to pay off. Understanding this fact will help to give you a longer-term perspective.
- Discover New Pleasures – Rather than lament what you can no longer afford to do, take the initiative to find a new hobby or an affordable activity keep yourself busy. There are literally thousands of things that you can do for little or no cost.
- Volunteer Some Time – Volunteering doesn’t cost a dime and will give you a sense of accomplishment. Volunteer with people who share a common interest like a club in your community or group in your church.
- Learn Something New– Take a class to improve on your career or one that teaches you something new and interesting.
Stop the Head Talk
That most difficult voice to shut out when battling debt is the one in your head. You may begin to rationalize how you can handle a new car payment or a loan for a new computer because you’re managing your finances so well. You may even start to believe that you deserver a reward for all the hard work you’ve done. This is why it’s a good practice to share your plan with someone who will help you be accountable.
The goal of eliminating debt is worth the effort in the long run. You’ll improve your credit score, learn to budget and appreciate the changes that come when you’re not constantly stressing about money. Your family will learn important lessons, as well, that will, hopefully, keep them from falling into debt themselves. Just think of the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you can use your own personal resources to invest, save for vacation, donate to charity and pay for your dreams.