Enjoying the process of reaching your goals is possible…
Getting out of debt was one of the BEST feelings of my life.
Like I was in a screenplay where American Authors were walking behind me singing “Best Day of My Life” as I walked down New York City streets and the credits rolled. 🤩
It didn’t feel great when I was first trying to get out of debt.
It went more like this…
Make a weekly payment toward my debt, so I could pay it off as quickly as possible.
To make the payment, I would decide NOT to go out with my friends or buy new clothes or even have an ice cream. Because the priority was paying off the debt.
All I could see was all the things I wasn’t getting to do.
And I would beat myself up because I was the rotten person who had made the stupid decision to get into debt in the first place.
In my head, it sounded like Angela from The Office saying something like, “if you hadn’t gotten into all this debt, you could be hanging out with friends right now. And this isn’t just a one-weekend thing. You’re years away from getting out of this. So, have fun doing nothing — for years.”
That miserable feeling did not make me want to keep going for long.
Then I discovered 2 things.
How Dopamine Can Help you Enjoy Reaching your Goals
#1 To increase the chances of sticking with a goal, you need to set yourself up for a dopamine release as you’re making progress. Dopamine not only makes us feel great. It actually motivates us to keep moving forward. That’s why achievable milestones that measure progress are so important. Seeing progress gives us a dopamine hit.
Remember the last time you weighed yourself and you were down a few L-Bs? Yup. That feeling was good ole dopamine.
Neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman talks about how the brain can help you create momentum and success on the Lewis Howes podcast here.
#2 In order to stick with any habit, you need positive emotional feelings about it. In other words, you need a dopamine hit. You do the habit, you get a hit. It’s not positive feelings attached to the outcome. It’s positive feelings attached to the habit itself.
You work out and tell yourself what a bad mamma-jamma you are. You get a dopamine hit. Your brain really likes that, so you keep working out because you like how you feel about yourself. The congrats from yourself is the reward your brain craves.
This research comes from Dr. BJ Fogg’s research on rewiring your brain to create winning habits.
The dilemma was how to create these dopamine hits related to something as boring as paying off debt.
I got creative, and I implemented some practices that helped me shift my focus.
Instead of concentrating on the goal of paying off my debt, I decided to concentrate on the total dollar amount I was paying off each quarter. So, I would do a lookback over the quarter.
At first, I had been writing down, my debt was here at $x. My debt is now here at $x.
BEFORE my dopamine knowledge, I would stop there.
After learning how cool my brain is, I added one little thing. I wrote, I have paid down $x in debt this last quarter.
Looking at the amount I paid down meant I was looking at the achievement I had accomplished in that time period. The progress. Not just what was left to reach my goal.
And I supercharged it by getting myself a celebration partner who had been in my situation before. They had felt my pain. And I would text them. I would say, I just paid off $x in debt this quarter.
And they would get excited and tell me how amazing I was for paying off THAT MUCH DEBT in one quarter! Every. Single. Time.
I got a lot of emojis like 👏👏👏 or 💃🏻 or 🙌.
It was excitement I could feel through the text!
Not just an old double tap thumbs up.
That excitement kept me focused on the progress instead of the ultimate goal.
Rewarding Yourself Along the Way
And finally, I created moments of celebration and reward for myself as I made the debt payments each week. I would thank myself, congratulate myself, or give myself permission to do something fun as a reward for making the payment.
Now, the fun thing might have been putting on skates and taking a skate-break from work so I wasn’t diverting money to reward myself. But each week I was creating a moment of mini-celebration when I made the payment.
Habit practiced. Bam! Weekly dopamine hit. Good job, ole gal! Keep it up.
That’s when I started feeling better while paying down my debt.
Now, I didn’t wake up blasting rays of sunshine everywhere every single day. But I was happier. And it made it so much easier to stick with the progress I was making.
And that’s why I think it’s so important to celebrate your weekly profit allocations. That’s why I’m getting on camera each week to congratulate us all.
Happy Profit Allocation Day, you financial bad-a$$es!
The consistent practice is THE win.
Then Profit Distribution weeks are when we can really let down our hair and celebrate! It is time to go get that Starbucks Pumpkin Loaf! Or have a nice dinner. Or drop that $15 bath bomb.
As I note in this Profit First Distribution video, this time I’m paying for a big car repair. But I did also buy myself some new SPANX too! Ooo-la-la!
In the video, there’s the added bonus of the other Profit Distribution Day checklist items, like increasing allocations and cutting expenses, distribution vs debt payment.
You can watch it here.
The point is, if you want to stick with Profit First and reach your big financial goals faster, make sure you’re setting your brain up for success.
- Get a celebration partner who understands how big of a deal it is to make the progress you’re making. Have it be someone who gets excited for you and about you! We all need cheerleaders. Don’t settle for the measly double tap.
- Make the PROGRESS the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) vs the outcome. Look at how far you’ve come vs how far you have to go.
- When you make your allocations each week, always take a time out to celebrate what a Profit champ you are!
So, hop to it. Celebrate your success with that profit distribution this week!
Here’s to putting more profits in your pockets without working harder.
p.s. here’s to being happy while you do it too! 💃🏻