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Financial Planning for Life

by Mark Fischer
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February 2011 Archives

Let's assume that you are really committed to making an important change. You have a clear vision of what life will be like after the change. You have planned out what you will do to make the change happen. In fact, you are so committed that you have written the plan down. So why not just do it? Because sometimes you will run into problems along the way. This blog will discuss how to get better prepared and make the changes happen.

3. Preparing to change in spite of problems
Most likely, you will not be perfect in the execution of your plan to change. You will have obstacles including distractions and temptations to abandon your plan and go back to the old way of doing things. They can cause setbacks and slip-ups.

You can prepare for these obstacles in two ways. First, identify some of the more likely obstacles that you will encounter and what you will do to get back on track. Second, make sure that your actions have consequences. Reward yourself for keeping on track and punish yourself for straying. Just make sure that you do not get too focused on punishments - keep a positive and forward-oriented focus. Some behavioral scientists suggest that you should have at least four times as many rewards as punishments.

When your change becomes difficult, it will be especially helpful to refer back to your written plan, which contains a vision of why you decided to change. Again, the clearer your vision is, the more helpful it will be to your success.

4. Just do it
Many people find it easier to commit to a change if they "have more skin in the game." One of the more common ways of doing this is to tell other people about your program of change. Then they can ask you about your progress and encourage you for your successes along the way.

Another approach is to pay money for the change. Out-of-pocket money may encourage you to follow through - you would not want to waste the money you spent. For example, if you have a new weight goal, it might be helpful to become a member of a gym or hire a personal trainer.

Both of these relate to the idea of accountability. You can have an accountability partner who is a friend or family member. You can also hire a personal coach who will make him/herself available on a regular basis to develop a plan, ask about progress, and help you overcome any obstacles.

Good luck on your journey.