How Much Time Do You Have?
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Years ago, I read somewhere that Jerry Seinfeld’s best advice to young comics and writers was always the same: write every day.
He shared that over the years he’d developed a routine that worked for him, even when he didn’t feel motivated.
Apparently, Seinfeld hangs a big wall calendar with an entire year on one page and makes an X on every day that he writes. After a few days, he has a chain. The idea is that you will love seeing the chain grow longer and longer, especially after several weeks, and then all you have to focus on is not breaking the chain.
This idea has always stuck with me because, well, I love Jerry Seinfeld, but also because my perfectionist streak has long since been an impediment to my progress.
I don’t need to worry about writing the perfect anything. It doesn’t have to be my best work. I don’t have to finish. I just have to write. I only have to worry about not breaking the chain.
There is so much freedom in the habit. No need to overthink it. No need to debate whether or not you have time, or if you are in the right mood—no decisions necessary. You just do what you do because that is what you do—everyday.
It works because it is sustainable—a little bit every day—each day’s effort building upon the day’s before. Over time, that slow and steady consistency has major, lasting impact. Momentum and progress are inevitable.
It’s true of writing and exercise, and certainly, of budgeting.
Your financial future isn’t riding so much on getting a raise this year, the size of your bonus, or making a career change; your financial future is the sum of a hundred little decisions, day after day. Budgeting is won, not by the person who pays off their debt the fastest, or reduces their expenses most drastically, but by the person, who just keeps budgeting.
You don’t have to do it perfectly. Your debt won’t be gone overnight. Just keep budgeting.
You might not have as much discretionary income as you’d like. There will be times when you can’t get something that you want exactly when you want it. Just keep budgeting.
At some point, life will blow up in your face, and you’ll have to completely start over. That’s OK. Just keep budgeting.
Every time that you go back to your priorities, readjust and stick with your budget, the easier and more automatic it becomes; the better decisions you’ll make, and the more money you’ll have.
The power of your budget has everything to do with consistency.
So release yourself from comparison and timelines and guilt. Just keep budgeting.
Don’t waste time worrying about how big the debt is or be discouraged if your progress feels slow. Just keep budgeting.
All you have to worry about every day is not breaking the chain—continue to use your budget to make the daily decisions that seem small but add up to a shift in perspective, a new way of thinking, and the kind of awareness that breeds total control.
Just keep budgeting.
Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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