Last week we reviewed Brian Tracy's best-selling book, Eat That Frog! looking at simple tactics that could help you to take action on your financial resolutions this year. The book's unusual title is derived from a saying that if the first thing you do each morning is eat a live frog, it would probably be the worst thing that would happen to you for the entire day.
Tracy, a goal achievement expert, explained that your frog is your most important task, "the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don't do something about it now". If you immediately tackle your frog every day, it will have a tremendous positive effect on all your goals. Ignoring your frogs will only make it harder to achieve your life's objectives.
Your ticket to success
One thing you can do right now to change your financial future is to prepare a budget. However, it is probably the one money objective that people procrastinate on the most. Budgeting could definitely be viewed as a big 'frog' that you need to eat. It is the foundation to money success; as without the clarity it provides, it will be hard to proceed with your other goals.
I recognise that many people find budgeting to be a challenge. Some persons don't know how to make a budget, while others are actually afraid to know how much they really spend. Then there are those who try to budget, but eventually give up because it never seems to work for them, or they lack the discipline to persevere.
Priority number one
The reality is that success with all your other money goals is contingent on the completion of your budget. Without it, you will be unaware of what you really do with your money, and you won't be able to make informed spending choices. A budget can also help you to set earnings targets to offset income shortfalls and still achieve your financial objectives.
If you have never created a budget, or you don't use it on a monthly basis, make it your priority to get it done this year. I have written on dozens of occasions about the simple steps required to complete an accurate budget. You can download a budget template at www.financiallysmart.org, and read more details on the budgeting process at www.financiallysmartadvice.com.
Knowing what to do and having the tools needed to do it may still not be enough to get the job done, as there are many things that can prevent you from sticking with the programme or from even getting started. Let's look at some more of Brian Tracy's strategies that can help you to 'eat the budget frog' once and for all.
Put on the pressure
Tracy advised that you can overcome procrastination by putting pressure on yourself to perform.
Imagine that you have one day to finish your work before you leave on an all-expense-paid trip, how would you approach your tasks? He suggested that you apply that sense of urgency to your frog and refuse to let yourself off the hook until you are complete.
You can turn up the pressure by reminding yourself daily that your money problems are only going to get worse if you delay getting your budget done. There is no magic wand that will appear to fix your situation. If you don't take immediate action, then be prepared for another year of distress and frustration.
Take one step at a time
It may feel overwhelming to prepare a budget because there are so many expenses to consider, but focusing on the magnitude of the job may only cause you to procrastinate. Tracy recommended that the best way to eat a large frog is for you to "take it one bite at a time." Therefore, you can dice your budget into bite-sized pieces instead of trying to tackle it all in one go.
Take your expense checklist and tick off all the costs that you already know. Highlight the bills that you are not sure about, and decide that every day you will try to get the required information for one of those expenses. After a couple of weeks you will have completed the task of identifying all the ways you need to spend money over the course of an entire year.
Keep plodding on
Once you have started an important job, Tracy insisted that you must concentrate on it single-mindedly until you are 100 per cent complete. Discipline yourself to ignore distractions, and repeat the words "Back to work!" if you are tempted to stop or do something else. With this approach, you will become more efficient at finishing your key tasks.
After identifying all your expense items, then you can sit down and tackle your budget plan. Record your earning sources and subtract your total expenses from total income to determine if you have a budget shortfall or surplus. Keep working diligently to identify where you can cut back on costs, or how you can allocate more money towards future goals.
Cherryl is a money coach, business mentor, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. Her upcoming book, "The 3 Ms of Money" will reveal all the secrets she learned about financial success. Get more advice on money and business matters at www.entrepreneursinjamaica.com. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.