Okay, it’s time to get real.
Because, to be perfectly honest, about a year ago I woke up to the fact that my run/walk exercise routine was floundering. Even though I love getting outside and I relish the intimate conversations I have with G-d during that quiet time, I was having too many excuses. Some days were too hot. Others too cold. And on the “good days” I would find things to do and push off my exercise till it was time for my boys to come home from school.
I was getting frustrated with myself for not getting things done, plus I was feeling sluggish and unfit. Should I even mention that middle-age spread and extra weight that I couldn’t shake?
I knew it was time to get serious. Something about my exercise routine had to change.
So, despite my preference for fresh air and the great outdoors, last February I joined a gym and started spinning.
Admittedly, I felt self-conscious the first time I walked in. All the other women were friendly with each other and knew what to do. And I hate being the newbie on the block.
But I took a deep breath and swallowed my pride. With a little instruction from the teacher, I was soon working up sweat and the endorphins were flowing.
Now, I’m not going to kid you and say that it was love at first sight and I was smitten with spinning. But I did feel better. Plus, I knew I was doing something good for my body and for my overall health.
So I kept showing up. At first it was twice a week and I thought I’d still go running once a week. But after two months I decided to increase spinning to three times a week. It was just the way to commit to the process and get things done.
And 12 months later, I have to celebrate the fact that I’ve successfully committed to spinning for a whole year. Here are five great takeaways that I’ve learned, plus what a consistent exercise routine can teach you about managing your money better.
1. Doing it by yourself doesn’t always work.
It’s hard to admit defeat. Very hard in fact. Because we think it should be simple, right? All I had to do was lace up my running shoes and walk out the front door. And there were periods in my life when I was committed to the process and things were going great.
But something changed. Maybe I got bored of the same routine or I just lost focus. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter, is that when I finally woke up to the fact that I wasn’t prioritizing my health (it took about a year!), I knew I needed to do something different. So, I joined a spinning class.
And money is like that too. It seems so simple. Track your money, cut back on your spending, save for a rainy day. But for many people, the reality is that doing it themselves doesn’t work. Or it doesn’t work for the long term. Because they lose focus, get bored and “life” gets in the way. And before they know it, they’ve slipped. They’ve stopped contributing to their retirement plans, they’ve drained their saving account or they’ve gone into debt. And every day or every week things are going to change and it’s going to get better. But for whatever reason, it doesn’t. And it’s time to reach out for help.
2. Accountability works.
I pay for my classes in advance and commit to showing up! Yes, there are times I miss spinning due to illness, travelling, celebrating my son’s Bar Mitzvah or my daughter’s wedding. But my overriding commitment to the process and knowledge that someone is expecting me to show up, ensure that even when I stray or get off track, I get back to routine. Fast.
Working on your money with a partner, an accountability buddy or a coach are three great options for making sure that you have the support you need to stay the course. Unfortunately, because money is still considered a taboo subject, it’s the area where people are least likely to reach out for help.
If you could benefit from some support so you can manage your money better, reach out and let me know what’s going on. I would love to see how I can support you.
3. You need to schedule it into your day and week.
I make consistent exercise it a priority. Three days a week. Every single week. Because if you really, really want to get something done you have to block out time in your day. Leaving it to chance is the best way for it not to happen.
Money is like that too. You have to schedule 10 or 15 minutes into your day – every day – to track your spending and your income. Schedule monthly money dates to plan out your monthly and annual spending. Set aside time in your calendar to pay your taxes and manage your retirement accounts. But if it’s not in your calendar, it’s going to happen last minute. Or not at all.
4. There’s no such thing as a Get Fit Quick Scheme.
It doesn’t matter how many miles you run or the number of pushups you do in a single day. Once is not enough. Steady habits, consistently performed yield great, long-lasting results.
Money is the same way. We get rich slowly by consistently tracking our spending, reducing our expenses, regularly investing small sums, and enabling compound interest to work its magic.
Unfortunately, too many people wait for that big win to take charge of their money: when I close that business deal, when I get my annual bonus, when I get an inheritance, when I have my next launch…. But because they haven’t developed strong money practices in the lead up to that big event, the money ends up getting frittered away.
Don’t wait for a windfall. Start where you are right now. Take better care of your money.
5. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing.
It’s human nature to look over our shoulders to check out our neighbors and to waste time, energy and money trying to keep up with them. In fact, a 2016 study shows that the neighbors of lottery winners are significantly more likely to declare bankruptcy than other folks because they try to keep up with the Joneses. Researchers say that the lifestyle upgrades enjoyed by lottery winners tempt the neighbors to increase their own spending, even though they haven’t had a sudden windfall.
But spinning isn’t like. I measure my progress and performance against me and only me. Of course, I need to be honest with myself: am I pedaling as hard as I can? Can I raise the tension on my bike a wee bit more and work my muscles even harder? Can I move a little bit faster when we’re doing a sprint set?
I notice that when I focus my effort and attention on what I’m doing, there’s always room to push and stretch myself just a little bit more.
And when it comes to your finances, it’s equally important to put on the blinders and stay in your own lane. Stretch yourself a little more and please don’t compare yourself with everybody else. It doesn’t matter what car your neighbors are driving, when they last renovated their kitchen and how many vacations they’re taking this year. Focus on the steps you need to take to build consistent, healthy wealth for your future. It’s the only way to make it work!
Do any of these lessons that I’ve learned from my consistent exercise routine sound familiar to you? What steps will you take to start managing your money better? Let us know in the comments below! (And for extra help on this, don’t forget to check out the blog post 13 Ways to Save Money Every Month!)