Recently, I was talking to a new client who was feeling like they weren’t making progress in their financial life.
This happens so often! We all have these big financial goals in life, and an idea of when we’ll hit those goals. And sometimes, we absolutely do!
Other times, though, we don’t reach our goals by the time we wanted to. This can lead to feelings of being stuck and stagnant, like we’re not making progress at all — even if we are making (smaller, less noticeable) progress.
So when we feel this frustration come on, what can we do about it?
The importance of reflection
The first thing I want to stress is the importance of pausing and reflecting. Ask yourself: Is it true that you’re not making any progress?
When I have these moments and I force myself to reflect, I always think about the fact that wealth-building is a long-term process. So I like to remind myself of where I was 5 or 10 years ago, versus where I am now.
Every time I do this, I often realize that my husband and I HAVE accomplished most of the goals we had set for ourselves in the past. Those goals have just shifted — and that’s what we haven’t achieved.
Additionally, ask yourself what progress means to you. Maybe you’re not financially where you want to be, but you have the ability to stay home with your kids and provide for them. That’s also progress!
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you from 5 years ago would be proud of where you are today, you need to give yourself some credit!
If your answer is no, then it could be time to do a little deeper work. I’ve talked a lot about money scripts — the stories we tell ourselves about our ability to make and have money. So sometimes, this question is a wake-up call!
Take stock of where you are
Okay, so you’ve paused and reflected and you’re still feeling a bit frustrated. What next?
Take stock of where you are in life, what’s going well, and what’s not going so well. You can get as analytical with this step as you’d like.
This doesn’t have to be solely about your financial life, either. You can use this step to look at all areas of life.
Your asset analysis
Now, in terms of your financial life, I always suggest taking stock of your assets and debts. Take a sheet of paper, and draw a line down the center. On one side, list out your assets — all the things that add value to your net worth. On the other side, list out your debts, like your mortgage or car loan.
Once you’ve done this, add up both sides and add them together. If your assets are larger than your debts, you have a positive net worth. If your debts are larger, you have a negative net worth.
There’s nothing wrong with a negative net worth, by the way! Most people start out with a negative net worth.
Okay, so you’ve done all of this. Now, I want you to repeat this process every few months to track your progress. Sometimes, it feels like you’re not making progress, but when you track your net worth and see the overall value increasing, you can easily follow along your progress!
Quantify where you want to be
This is the step that I find most people (myself included), can struggle with the most. On this step, you’re going to put an actual number on your goals and desires.
You might not be where you want to be right now, but where is that? Give it a number. For example, if you want to have a $1,000,000 net worth. That’s a great, quantifiable goal!
Now, you get there by breaking this down into savings and investing goals along the way. This can be as simple as doing a monthly audit of your money, making sure you’re bringing in more money than you’re spending.
If your goals aren’t financial, you can still quantify them. For example, if your goal is to find more joy in life, break that down. What does it look like, and what are the actions you need to do to get here? Give yourself tangible steps that will help you achieve your goals.
Remember that progress happens slowly
When you’re starting out, you might not have that much money invested. Maybe you’ve put $100 in the stock market, getting a 10% annual return. So after the first year, you’ve earned $10. Which might not feel like much.
But what we really want to do is remember that money compounds. While 10% of $100 might not feel like that much, what happens when you start earning 10% of $100,000? Or $1,000,000?
That’s the power of compounding interest. It’s not going to happen in a landslide. It’s about the day-in, day-out consistency of making sure you’re spending money well and in ways that’s aligned with your goals. You can make savings and spending goals easy with my BudgetingBlocks™ exercise!
And lastly, if you feel like you’re getting stuck on your goals, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get help! Getting help can come in a lot of different ways — you might get it from a friend, your spouse, or a financial advisor.
Remember, even in the steps where you feel like you’re not making progress, you’re probably making more than you know!
- Use our BudgetingBlocks™ to plan a financial future that includes the highs and lows of the market. A good budget includes all possible financial scenarios and helps you see where your money is going!
- Evaluate your money with our Live Wealthy Now resource library. You’ll find a balance calculator in there, along with budgeting tools, values exercises, and more.