From time to time, I think we all suffer from the notion that we can have everything we want, regardless of the contradictions between our desires. When my wife and I got married one of the first things we made a decision on was what our immediate and long-term financial goals would be. As with most young couples, we had the dream of paying off our house, traveling around the world and some other forgotten ideals. Soon after we got hitched, we signed up for an intense school tour where we spent 3 years traveling around the country performing around 375 shows per year. Awesome! We get to travel! The problem was, we were immediately thrown into a battle between our expectations and actually getting what we wanted.
Whenever I tell people that I jump rope (and travel) for a living, most people have a romanticized idea of what that looks like. They imagine their vacation…but it never ends. Nice hotels, swimming pools, friendly staff, etc. The truth is, if you want to spend a lot of money every night, you could have that. On the flip side, if that’s how you spend your money, you won’t have any left over at the end of the year. Alicia and I started the tour with a decision that we needed to make, what do we really want? Is our goal to have a fun tour and stay in nice hotels and just enjoy the tour? Is our goal to actually pay off our house? Based on what we would be making, there was no way that both things were going to happen. After a lot of discussion, we decided that we would focus all of our energy on paying off the house. That was what we wanted and that would drive our decisions on everything from where we would stay, what we would eat, what we would do with our free time, etc. Every decision during the tour revolved around saving money so that we could put the extra amount against the principal on our house. We stayed in some of the cheapest hotels in the country (we eventually bought a small camper to live out of in parking lots), we developed a $5 per day food budget for the two of us, we pretty much hung out together and took the dog for a walk. We spent 3 years living as cheap as possible and pretty much everyone that saw how we lived thought we were nuts.
Because we didn’t let other people decide our standard of living or affect our resolve, we were able to pay off our house. I can’t tell you what freedom that was! The crazy thing was, as soon as we did it, all sorts of people started talking about how jealous they were of us. How nice it would be to have all that extra money to do that. I was truly shocked at the attitudes we ran into from people we knew. Many of them were making roughly the same amount I was, but the reason we were able to pay the house off had everything to do with focusing on getting what we really wanted and not letting anything else get in the way.
What do you really want? Do you want to lose weight? Get in shape? Learn new skills? What do you really want? The most important part of achieving your goal is to first define it. Only then can you design and implement your plan to achieving what you really want! I’ve found that laser-like focus on where you want to end up is the quickest way to getting there.