Put them scissors down…you ain’t fooling nobody! Instead of cutting those mags…you busy reading them (again)? You have been to every vision board party and only managed to cut out a picture of a pair of binoculars (’cause you wanna ‘focus’ more). You’ve spent the equivalent of brunch on glossy magazines so pretty, you don’t even wanna cut them no more (but they do make your coffee table look real modern, though). And if you are like me, the heavy schedule came like fire and brimstone once the clock struck midnight on January 1. And now, it’s almost Valentine’s Day (boooo….I digress). Face it…you probably are not gonna hang up a neon posterboard with random happy people doing the random happy things you plan to randomly do this year.
No worries. While I love the concept of vision boards, and as an artist it would appear that I would be the first to dive into colors and hues and “hues of shoes,” I am kinda like “eh” when it comes to vision boards. But I did read quite a bit leading up to 2014 to mentally prepare me for many of the new things that were around the corner, and it seemed that an “ACTION BOARD” was more appropriate. So get off the floor with those pictures of King Bey and Blue Ivy! You still can set some goals this year that are doable, practical, and doesn’t require glue.
1) Set aside an amount per paycheck to go towards bills: no amount is too small. Five dollars a week would satisfy at least one of your monthly minimum payments on a credit card. Yes, it may feel a little slow, and sometimes not being able to see when debt will never be an issue cripples us from even trying. But slow progress is still progress. Some other financial tips that may help:
- Not too late to get on the 52 week financial challenge. Print out the chart and get some friends to join in with you (this week is week 3, so put $3 aside; if you want to catch up, your total piggy bank should have $6 by Saturday);
- Start with the doable bills first. We like to win, because we are winners. So every bill paid for, no matter if it is only a $40 charge, is a win! Then move on to the next bill…
- All your bills are huge, huh? Don’t run away from your phone when “unavailable” or the random “1-800” number pops up…pick it up. Talk to the human on the other side and set up an arrangement. And you never know…you may be able to get that sucker all the way down (another win!)
2) Revisit all your memberships and unsubscribe to at least one: we get that you like to workout, need a secret shopper to pick all your fabulous gear, and need that latest subscription of O magazine. But all at once, though? I’m sure like me, many of you have no idea how many subscriptions, clubs, memberships you really are apart of. Three places that you need to check:
- Mail–a lot of times you will get a random “thank you” letter from an entity you don’t know about. We often toss in the trash, but just double-check to make sure you are not subscribe to that group. If you want certain letters to never come to you again, check out apps like PaperKarma.
- Email–if you do not have the time to go through all of your mail (and junk mail) to see what you are subscribed to, check out unroll.me. It goes through your email once, gets all the stuff you are subscribed to, and presents it all to you–in one email! From there, you can choose to unsubscribe and it does it all at once!!!
- Bank Statements–you may be surprised how many $3.99 monthly subscriptions come out of your account. Look at the monthly charges–trust me…those little ones add up. Also, try to see if you can get the same service cheaper or for free (if you really need it).
3) Write down three of God’s promises to you and keep them on you at all times: anyone who visits any office I have ever possessed becomes accustom to seeing sticky notes lined up around my computer. I like positive stuff visible and present all the time…and especially when I feel my sailor tongue about to lash out. But sometimes I will find a sticky in my purse, or put one in my wallet. It is always a great find when challenges come along. The list of God’s promises are more powerful than googled quotes and fortune cookie sayings. Change them up every month! I promise you won’t run out;) Here are some good ones to start with:
- Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (my absolute favorite…so much so, that it is in my email signature)
- Proverbs 1:33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.”
- Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
4) Plan to travel…and plan six months in advance: this is really two parts. First, plan to travel. The concept of “traveling” seems so far fetched for many, whether due to finances, family, or career. I have been lucky to get out of the country at least once the last two years–and have grown and changed exponentially after each trip. Now, I am purposely making an effort to travel once a year. And traveling is not just about leisure and relaxation, although those should be great motivators. As believers and encouragers, we are not limited to being witnesses on the soil we have grown accustom to. The Great Commission of interacting with the world allows for us to both receive and give the goodness that is present in our lives with brothers and sisters worldwide. So pick a group of friends or family, a travel agent, a month in the year…and work backwards to prepare for your trip (and use tip #1 to set aside an amount per week or month to achieve this goal).
5) Manage your schedule hourly: I am well over my time limit on this blog (I was to be done at 10:30am), but that’s ok! I’m just glad I’ve adopted a tighter time limit for myself. I am the queen of “to-do” lists, but I would often get frustrated when I had tasks that I wasn’t able to get around to. After tying my to-do list to a time table, I realized that it wasn’t that I was lazy or slow…I was creating impossible to-do lists! There was no way I was going to accomplish all those tasks in 12 hours. Managing an hourly schedule may seem tedious, but it helps manage expectations (and your sanity). Helpful tip: prepare the to-do list the night before, and separate it by hours in the morning.
6) Have monthly “Accountability Brunches” with friends to revisit and reframe goals: if you need a little fire to keep you on point with your action plan, hit up a couple friends and discuss the month’s progress. Sometimes we live in a bubble that convinces us that our approach is the best one; this only changes when we hear a better solution. Be open and a little vulnerable about where you struggled, and be prepared to receive feedback about different actions to pursue the next month to achieve your goals. And of course, end each brunch with a prayer to seal the next steps.
One of the laws of physics states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The actions planned today, will reap a return tomorrow.