For the last couple of months, I have been creating monthly goals in an effort to push myself physically and mentally to limits that are uncomfortable. Why push myself to uncomfortable limits, you ask? I’ll get to that in a minute.
I like to set one financial goal and one fitness goal a the beginning of every month. In June my fitness goal was to walk or run for a total of 500,000 steps. In July, my goal was to save $1000 dollars and run 2 miles every day.
The three things that I learned from running 2 miles every day in July
- You are not pushing yourself unless you are slightly uncomfortable.
- As little as 20 minutes of alone time feeds my soul.
- You will never regret a reward you earned.
Why run 2 miles per day?
The July running goal was initially inspired by a friend, who a couple of years ago, decided to run 2 miles a day, for a whole year. Yes, for 365 days she ran at least 2 miles per day. Rain or shine, in sickness or in health, she put on an old pair of ratty running shoes and ran every day. This makes my 2 miles per day, for one month look like chump change, but I’m okay with that.
2 miles is easy, Right?
It is not uncommon for me to be off, trail running, 6 miles a day, on non-work days but I rarely run on days I work. That is, until July. My work days are 12-hour shifts as a nurse and that leaves very little time for anything other than sleep, eat, work, and repeat.
Did you read about my other fitness challenges? Go have a look!
I knew that running two miles per day would be hard for me. When I work four 12 hour shifts in a row the last thing I want to do is run. I knew it would be uncomfortable. I would have to push myself to limits that I would not like. Running two miles would not be the hard part. The mental struggle of getting myself to get out of bed, put on shorts and running shoes and walk out of the front door was the challenge.
The above picture may not show it, but this was probably one of lowest days, emotionally, of the challenge. I was tired, I was hungry and I just didn’t feel like running. Once finished with my 2 miles that day though, I was glad I had overcome my mental obstacles.
Drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning is one of the highlights of my day. On this particular emotionally low day, I forced myself to run and rewarded that accomplishment with a hot, delicious, cup of coffee.
Being uncomfortable can help you reach financial goals too
I am a member of several personal finance Facebook groups. Most of the members are trying to pay down some kind of debt, usually student loan or credit card debt. Every once in a while, I come across a question in one of those groups that reads something like this.
My husband and I have $40,000 in credit card debt that we have been aggressively paying down. We just had our 3rd child. The small SUV we currently own makes getting 3 kids in and out of the car seats difficult. We would like to buy a minivan. Our small SUV is paid off but we would have to take out a $15,000 car loan to buy the minivan. Should pause our accelerated debt repayment to buy the minivan? What do you think?
When I read a question like this I start getting sweaty palms. Honestly, I usually don’t reply or comment on these types of questions because personal finance is personal. Financial questions like this are a mixture social science and emotion.
After reading a question like this I will give myself a pep talk.
- Life is not always supposed to be comfortable.
- You don’t deserve anything you didn’t earn.
- Easy goals are not as satisfying.
How many of the decisions do you make in life revolve around being comfortable? Maybe you want a bigger house, or a bigger car, like a minivan. Give yourself the ability to be uncomfortable while you earn your reward. Pay off a couple of credit cards to increase your cash flow before you buy that new car. Or better yet, buy an asset that generates enough income to pay for the new car.
My last post, How I Maxed out My 401K In 6 Months, was a post about pushing myself to be uncomfortable. When I was working large amounts of overtime earlier this year, I could have increased our family’s lifestyle but instead, I chose to bank those earnings into my 401k. This has parlayed into increased taxable brokerage savings in the back half of 2018. We will also be rewarding our effort with plans for a family vacation in the early part of 2019.
My best financial decisions are made while running
I listen to financial podcasts while running. Super geeky, I know. I have learned so much over the years from a few of my favorite podcasts.
I have used these podcasts as a resource to inspire myself to be uncomfortable and to make smart financial decisions.
Anytime I am faced with a difficult financial question, I will take a day or two to ponder the issue. Usually, after listening to a couple personal finance podcasts, for inspiration, I feel like I make a smarter, more logical decision. Even if the podcast has nothing to do with the decision at hand.
Set a goal and Be accountable
Here is your job. Set a goal for August. Why wait for January like the rest of America to set a goal. Pick just one goal and make yourself accountable to that goal. Use the goal as an opportunity to create positive habits in your life while banishing bad habits for good. Discipline and perseverance are learned traits that you can build like a muscle.
Leave a comment below and tell me what your August goal will be. Remember, when you say it out loud or write it down, you are taking steps to make yourself accountable.
In the 31 days of this challenge, there was not a day where I regretted running. Sure, there were plenty of days where I didn’t want to run, but 30 minutes later, when I finished the run, I was glad I overcame my mental obstacles and forced myself to be accountable to my challenge goals.
For the record, I understand July is not over yet. Baring some catastrophe, I plan to glide into the end of the month, running my 2 miles per day because I do not work any more days in July.
We have a family camping trip coming up at the end of the month. You will find me just after sunrise, lacing up my running shoes to run the campground trails like a crazy person. Rest assured I will complete my fitness challenge goal.