I’m always the first one of our family to throw back the covers and climb out of bed on weekend mornings. My goal is always to get up, get to the gym, and get home before anyone else even thinks of getting up. One such Saturday morning I was composing a note to leave on the kitchen counter as I was preparing to head out to the gym. My wife likes to know what time I left so she knows approximately when to expect me back home. So, I ripped a piece of paper out of a notebook and wrote these words:
Went to workout: 7:30am
I had done this countless times, but for some reason on that day the words struck me as odd. The words just didn’t correctly convey what it is I go to the gym to accomplish. I crossed out the word, “workout,” and wrote in big bold letters “TRAIN.”
Went to TRAIN: 7:30am.
I nodded my head as I said the words to myself. Much better. The word, “workout,” conveyed a message of a static state of maintaining my current fitness level. That’s not at all what I want to do at the gym. I want to push myself, I want to get bigger, better, and faster. I’m working towards goals. I want to bench press 300 pounds. I want to run a personal best marathon time in 2015 with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Make no mistake about it, I go to the gym to train.
Ever since that morning, whenever I read a blog post that uses the phrase, “paying off debt,” I get a similar feeling of uncomfortableness. It’s not that the author is not paying off debt any less than I go to the gym to workout. It’s certainly an fairly accurate representation of both actions, but it is incomplete.
A better phrase would be, “building a better financial future.”
The phrase, “paying off debt,” conveys a message of begrudgingly paying for past mistakes. It paints a negative picture of necessary restriction and deprivation to fix something. While that may not be an entirely inaccurate description of some of the actions in motion, it’s important to keep your eyes on what it is you’re really trying to accomplish.
Building a better financial future.
The mind is a powerful thing. It is your mindset that can keep you strong, and keep you moving forward when times get difficult. Your perspective can have a dramatic effect on your day to day actions. Let me give you some examples:
I’m in the gym, doing bench press. I’m contemplating trying to push the weight of my last set up an additional 5 pounds. If, in my mind, I’m simply there to workout I may decide to not bump the weight. I still lifted weights, so I fulfilled the requirement. But did I train? Did I make the extra effort to improve myself? Slap on the five extra pounds, and let’s train.
Now let’s say I’m paying bills and doing my budget for the next month. I make my debt payment as required. There, I fulfilled my requirement of “paying off debt” for the month. But if I really want to push and build a better financial future, maybe I tighten up my entertainment spending and pay an extra $50 extra towards that debt, or maybe put it into savings.
See the difference?
Say the words to yourself a couple of times:
Workout vs. Train
Paying off debt vs. Building a better financial future.
A change in perspective can mean everything. How’s your perspective today?