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You said yesterday that you were supposed to stop spending money on fast food (because it ‘ate up’ such a large part of your budget last month) yet you stopped by McDonald’s this afternoon because you weren’t paying any attention to the determined self talk you had this morning.
You said last week you were going to switch phones because your current phone was charging you $50 a month for a data plan you weren’t really using, but then you discovered Facebook and now you can’t put it down, even when you know you don’t need it or use it enough to justify keeping the data plan.
A lot gives. What we say mentally and out loud doesn’t always match our actions. Sometimes it’s because we are incapable of really honoring our decisions when we don’t have to, and sometimes we forget because life is busy, and sometimes we change our minds. But most of the time, we just refuse to acknowledge we made a decision that goes against what we want – and that’s okay, because you can do better.
Start with a reminder. If you no longer want to purchase a pair of shoes a week, use the sticky note system. Your computer has one, too, and it can help you stay devoted to your cause. When you get up in the morning, make sure the first thing you see is, “don’t buy those cute shoes at the store next door because you don’t need them,” because if you see it first thing in the morning, it often helps reaffirm your mind and body to the purpose. It can work with bigger things, too – like “stop trying to figure out how to buy the house down the street when the payment is double what you can afford” – that tax your willpower in your everyday life when it can sometimes be easier if you didn’t have to constantly fight with yourself.
Tell the people around you. Telling the people in your life can help because it means you are keeping yourself accountable. When you say, “mom, I’m not going to purchase a new car because I know I would just get it repo’ed again,” then you might be more willing to stay away because you know someone knows about your plan that isn’t you. Even saying these kinds of things out loud to yourself can really help reaffirm your goals and keep you on the right track.
Practice saying ‘no’. Even if you’re just saying ‘no’ to something that’s a dollar – like some gum at the checkout register – saying ‘no’ to yourself for little temptations can lead to higher temptations every day of your life. Eventually, if you start out with little steps, you’ll have made it as far as if you had been taking big steps in the same direction, even if it takes you a little longer. But make sure you’re telling yourself ‘no’ with good cause – don’t deny yourself everything simply because you need practice with the word no. It’s hard to sustain, and when you fail to say ‘no’ to yourself when you meant to, it can affect you mentally and set you up for failure next time you try.
Be patient with yourself. Just because you mess up once or twice does not mean that you are a complete failure and never will succeed in making your actions and your words and thoughts align. What it actually means is that you’re human, and humans make mistakes. Brush yourself off and learn from what you did – and keep going, treating yourself with the respect you deserve as you do.
Elizabeth Roque is an in-house writer for Franklin Debt Relief. She presents information about debt relief services, credit card debt reduction. and getting out of debt on a variety of financial sites online.