Your 1st Quarter Review: Create a System if you want to Change Your Life

It’s almost the end of 1st quarter already-whoa!  For those of you in sales- good luck hitting your numbers during the next week or so.  For accountants- our thoughts are with you during busy season.

Many of us started 2010 with a few goals 

We wanted to make this year better than the last.  We wanted to lose weight, pay down our debt, quit smoking, get a new job, etc.  How are you doing on your personal 2010 goals? Have you lost sight of these goals completely?  Have you “quit” your goals? 

You’ve all heard it before, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  It’s funny how we never think of ourselves as insane but, according to this definition, most of us are.

This year I had to face my own insanity and break the madness.  I’m hell bent on achieving my #1 goal: paying OFF my debt.  I imagine my battle with debt (although still well below that of the average American’s) is similar to those who battle with their weight.  It is very psychological and at times hard to control. 

The Change Process That Has worked for me

I’ve used the following process to help me make a big change in my life.  It can easily be applied to losing weight, saving money, or searching for a new job.   So far it’s working really well for me. 

Confession to yourself.  It started with looking at the number instead of ignoring it.  Really facing it.  Hating it, but facing it. 

Confession to Accountability Partners.  My anxiety was eating me alive, so I finally told my parents, boyfriend and best friend the number-all parties are strongly against keeping balances on credit cards.  Confessing was where it really began for me. 

Now I have a team of cheerleaders encouraging me to “get ‘er done”!  Plus, I can’t suddenly appear with new things and go out all the time anymore because they are watching.  It’s also easier for them to understand when I have to say no to stay within the budget.

At the end of each month I check in with Katie and tell her how much I paid off, and what I did good and bad. It has led to much progress.

Taking Action. I only had 3 credit cards, and I cut them up one by one.  It was really hard for me to let go of that last one.  It was my security blanket.  So my boyfriend cut it up while I wasn’t looking…

Getting used to discomfort.  I’m not cut out for credit cards.  I never bought anything too extreme when I did use one, just some trips to TJMaxx, Target, and those “but it was on sale!!” purchases that add up over time. 

Thanks to my credit card, I had never allowed myself to feel the discomfort of saying NO.  Crazy, isn’t it?  The more I face the discomfort, the easier it gets.  I still don’t like it, but now I can tolerate it.  I think getting used to discomfort is the best thing you can do for your life, your career and your goals.

Create systems that work for you.  I’m on a cash only system now.   Who wants to shop en masse with cash?  No one.  If I get tempted, it’s easy to look in your wallet and say, “I truly cannot buy this.”

I stay out of stores.  Sometimes this requires closing my eyes while walking past (you should see all the awesome stores around my office-they are my enemies).  I know, it’s ridiculous but its true.

I also plan  far ahead.  Again, so basic but something I wasn’t doing.  I always figured it would “work itself out.”  I spent a lot on gifts and said yes to every dinner invitation. Not anymore.  I have to plan ahead for my hair appointments, wedding gifts and car maintenance. 

Make sacrifices.  I decided to move out of my 25th floor Gold Coast apartment to move into a less glamorous neighborhood with Katie. I’m doing this because it is helping me reach my goal faster.  It is also a factor of admitting that what I was doing wasn’t working.

Rinse and Repeat. With the help of your cheerleaders and a bit of focus, you will get comfortable being uncomfortable.  Being uncomfortable is what leads you to change.  Create systems that don’t allow you to fail.  Keep it up over time.  Review (and celebrate!) your progress regularly.

Let us hold you accountable

  • What were your 2010 goals? 
  • What systems did you create for yourself to avoid temptation and falling back into your old habits?
  • Are you afraid of changing in order to get yourself to where you want to be?
  • If you fell off the wagon this year, why did you?  Do you plan on getting back to your goals?


Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.