Avoid 'crashing' your budget with long-term money management

If you keep your head and eyes focused on where you want to go, you will significantly reduce your chances of deviating from your course and suffering the iniquities of poor self-discipline

How is succeeding in motor officer training like succeeding in handling your personal finances? Indulge me a moment or two… 

The hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally was the two weeks I spent in motor school. The handful of months in FTO doesn’t compare. The six months in the academy was a comparative cakewalk. As any motor officer will tell you, just about anyone can go fast in a straight line (it’s not terribly difficult) but going slow through a bevy of cones is incredibly challenging. 

To learn how to do it, there is a saying in motor school: “Head and eyes — you will go where you look.” That saying is the secret to success.

A Skill Requiring Training and Discipline 
Admittedly, it is a bit counterintuitive at first. As you turn, you need to crane your head in the direction you are going and look at a point in the distance. Consequently, the motor will head in that direction, missing the cones immediately in front of you without you giving them so much as a glance.

By week two I was broken. 

I couldn’t complete a cone pattern without hitting one of the cones or falling over. If I heard “head and eyes” one more time, I was going to lose my mind. I called my wife during lunch and she encouraged me to persevere. I returned to the course and, with no one present, I completed every pattern without dumping the bike once or hitting a cone.

I got out of my own way and embraced “head and eyes” and as soon as I realized I really could do it, the rest of the week, while still challenging, was distinctly more enjoyable.

So what does that have to with my finances?

Develop Good Habits and Follow Through
Just as I needed to develop the habit of turning my head to look to where I wanted to go as opposed to looking at a much closer threat, the same is true of my approach to personal finance. If I only look at what is in front of me and not further down the line, I am running the risk of crashing. 

If I ignore my long-term goals with regard to finance, I may be short-circuiting them for short-term pleasure. If I am not budgeting with the rest of the month in mind or if I focus on my checking account balance instead of allocating my salary, I may overspend or, at minimum, spend without direction.

Consequently, when faced with financial obligations or challenges, I may have spent my way into trouble instead of adhering to the plan (read: budget) which is in place with long-term goals in mind.

As Dr. Stephen Covey wrote in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we need to begin with the end in mind. I’ll take it a step further and add we need to keep our head and eyes focused on those goals in order to follow the plan, complete our goals and win with our money.

I not only encourage you to create your spending plan, I encourage you to be consistent in revisiting it multiple times a month. This consistency develops the habit and keeps your head and eyes focused on where you are going.

If you keep your head and eyes focused on where you want to go, you will significantly reduce your chances of deviating from your course and suffering the iniquities of poor self-discipline.

No one wants to crash. I’ve done them both on the motor course and financially. They both hurt. The good news is that I’ve learned from my mistakes, and you can too.

Keep your head turned and those eyes focused on your financial goals and you will achieve what you once thought impossible.

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