Posted by: Brian | April 28, 2010

Bottom On Up: One Small Step for Man

This is part of a series of posts entitled Bottom On Up, which focuses on the how-to of your journey out of debt and into financial freedom.

When you have a clear goal in mind, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out how to get there. I like to break the goal up into small tasks, sort of like mini-goals. Lets continue with the main goal of becoming debt free. In order for me to be successful at accomplishing any goal, there must be an end point. If there is no time frame and the goal is left open-ended then there is too much of a chance that I will not complete it. My goal is to become consumer debt free by the time I am 30, and completely debt free by my 32nd birthday. That’s a pretty tall order to knock out $106,000 of debt in under three years and change! It’s totally doable but will definitely take some planning, discipline, and some mind tricks.

I know that I can lose sight of things rather quickly if I am not focused (blame it on the ADD). Like I said, this is a huge goal to accomplish so I need to break it apart. I like to take small, concrete steps towards accomplishing my goal. These small steps are all part of the planning needed in accomplishing any goal. David Ramsey, well-known author and personal finance guru, calls them baby steps and describes them in his book The Total Money Makeover. It’s a very good book and I suggest you read it.

I looked at my $106,000 debt and was like “Holy Crap! This is gonna take a lot to get rid of.” I recently read Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams. In this book, there is a concept called Q-Storming. This simple idea will help you create the small steps you need to accomplish your goal. Basically, you take your problem and start asking questions. Every question you ask, you write it down. Don’t worry about the answer yet. Just write down the question. Here are some of the questions I asked myself:

How can I pay off my debt? How can I make more money?
What can I do today to help me accomplish my goal? This week? This month? This year? If I could make more money, how would I go about doing it?
What skills do I have that can make me more money? Can I get a side hustle?
Which of my debts do I pay off first?
Where can I learn more about paying off my debt?
Who can I talk to about paying off my debt?
What are some of the side effects of having debt?

These are only a short list of the questions I asked, but don’t stop short. I asked many more questions until I couldn’t come up with another question relatively quickly. As I went along, I noticed that a lot of my questions were forming into mini-goals all on their own. The first mini-goal I focused on was based on the question “What can I do today?” I knew that I could review my bank records and see were I was spending my money. So that became my first mini-goal, my first small step. With my Q-Storming complete, I began to see other small steps I could take to pay off my debt. No longer was my $96,000 a huge problem; my goal was broken down into mini-goals which all were obtainable. I finally had a way to connect A to B.

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