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Well, Goal-lee!

April 30, 2011

Dear readers and self: this post marks the achievement of a personal goal. I’ve contributed a new post each day this month (once I got started on the 12th). It has been a bit of a struggle, but I made it.

As you can see if you look back at the dates on the posts, I sometimes missed the calendar day by posting after midnight, or missed days altogether that I had to make up the next day. Though I didn’t live up to the letter of my challenge, I feel I did fulfill the spirit of it.

I also have a long-term goal of extricating myself from credit card debt. I began working in earnest toward this goal in 2002, with my back against the wall and all my cards maxed out.

If all goes according to plan, my cards will be paid in full at year-end. I have faced numerous obstacles over the past decade that have put this goal in jeopardy. I’ve faced major home repairs; expenses and effort to return to college to fix the income side of my personal finance issues; I coped with a financially draining relationship which caused my payoff schedule to stall for about two years. There’s more, but you get the idea.

And believe me, I have other goals I’m struggling to get a handle on, goals that I’ve been far less successful with.

These two wins, however, should embolden me to work smarter and harder toward my other goals. The two lessons I (and presumably you, if you’re paying attention) take away are as follows:

1. Real life and weak moments will chip away at your big plans, but those are the true chances to shine. Not saying to hell with it when I had to put new siding on my house or when I came home late last night and fell into bed instead of writing; that’s what success is made of.
2. Reward yourself. My gift to myself for posting each day in April is an iPad. The financing for this gift is uncertain, and the unpleasant realization that this reward conflicts with my financial goals has tempered my enthusiasm somewhat. (The funny thing about gifts to oneself is that one still has to pay for them. Ha. Ha.)

The reward for my credit card goal, fortunately, is self-contained. Freeing up one-third of my cash flow for other uses, I expect, will be more liberating than coming out and moving out put together.

At heart, we are all little kids who want little more than an ice cream cone after getting a shot at the doctor’s office. Never underestimate the power of a well-dangled carrot.

Especially if it has a touchscreen and a ten-inch screen.

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