How far are you willing to go to reach your financial goals? I’ve recently hit a wall with my budgeting. A high wall. A $16,500 wall that 15 months is mentally crushing me. It’s is not that much considering how far I have come. Considering that my board and amount of savings I need to budget to achieve my goal is sitting at about 60% of my net income. I’ve come back to Harvard Professor, Angela Duckworth’s book for inspiration. In this article I’ll share with you my recent continued hardaches and the three elements I have come back to in Duckworth’s research to recentre and recalibrate.
But where on earth has this stemmed?
I may appear to be positive, cheery and working through my journey but as I explained to a family friend who was openly talking to his wife about the amount she spent on groceries I am often eating the same breakfast five days in a row, the same lunch five days in a row and the same dinner five days in order to achieve my goals. I also have times where I feel utter depair, like the multiple times this year my bicycles have broken and I have had to further slice back my food, fun and travel budget to address the said problems. In fact this Saturday just been when attempting to change my back bicycle tyre and Facetiming my Father in New Zealand to ask for help I lost it a little bit in frustration.
I think it might be the case that I, like many others, have the highlight reel of my life online without the vulnerabilities that those closest to me see.
This is despite the people I am connected with online that have much larger financial walls to scale addressing often $100,000 dollars of debt before they can even start saving for a house. I am lucky that I am debt free and on a relatively good income, weighing in at exactly the median Australian average and in fact more than the median female average.
Angela Duckworth: Grit
I bought Harvard Professor, Angela Duckworth’s book last year after listening to a Freakonomics episode where her full of life personality, vulnerablity and drive actually drew my attention away from beloved host, economist Stephen Dubner. The more Duckworth talked about her failures, her family’s lack of belief in her intellect and the hundreds of people she had conducted studies on to measure the concept of Grit.
I was so inspired after every knock back I got last year when my heart was sinking I kept coming back to Dubner’s interview with Duckworth to get my feet back on the ground. I later worked with an academic in our MBA program to redesign our Comms course. Duckworth has an amazing narrative in her book where she talks about the sheer amount of work, time and effort her TED talk took, even from a Harvard Professor that is regularly speaking in front of large lecture halls of students and conference rooms of academics. We worked in the idea of sparring partners
So what lessons have I taken from Duckworth to apply to my journey:
People that want to find a way to do something will find a way
Harvard psychologist, Scott Barry Kaufman, as constantly told throughout his childhood that he was incapable of learning and had stunted academic progress. Kaufman’s SAT scores from school held him back. Kaufman decided in his head, “I’m going to do it. I don’t care. I’m going to find a way to study” (Duckworth 2017, 33).
And find a way he did, through an Opera program that did not take into account old SAT scores and then onto a psychology major.
When I feel down I reach out daily to Dave Ramsey’s podcast where he is constantly interviewing and speaking to people that have worked hard and through various obstacles to get to financial success. One individual that I really admired that completed her debt free scream recently was gobudgetgirl, Sarah. She paid off $33K in 3 years, 2 months on a salary of $26K a year as a newspaper reporter.
If Sarah could achieve so much on a $26K salary with her infectious optimism surely I, an individual that was debt free could keep going.
Excellence is mundanity
“Mythologising natural talent lets us all off the hook, and lets us relax into the status quo”
(Duckworth 2017, 39).
A family friend in Brisbane, Australia sells luxury real estate. His Instagram account may outwardly make it seems that the deals come easily, fact is he works extremely hard, more than six days a week, he is a clever man that is constantly thinking, networking and striving. My parents spent a short holiday with him and his wife last year where he spent a lot of the holiday still working. He is incredibly knowledgeable, professional, passionate and deserves all the wins he brings home to his family. He gets up early, gets home late, embodies his truth and truly enjoys the chase.
Commonwealth swimmers make swimming look easy, but one short race takes years of preparation. Of getting up early and swimming laps. Of missing out on parties in lieu of going to bed early. Of eating properly and spending money on various body treatments.
A great potter after making 10,000 pots begins to find the endeavor easier.
Great writers continue to write, each day.
Great cyclists get on their bikes, even after a painful pedal to the shin and a hard fall to the road.
The Kim of 2016 that was regularly going out on shopping sprees one of which purchasing a $50 plastic Lorna Jane drink bottle (lost it running to make my connection in Aby Dabi), $120 Mimco wallet and $380 Epokhe sunglasses (lost them when I was out drinking) to try and fill the pain and grief caused by a closer family member being sick with cancer and pain that I would be left with no one and no children, family, stability or people to rely upon. Shopping may have filled my pain in the moment but didn’t address the issue.
I wanted security. Financial security didn’t need to come from meeting a man and getting married, with some hard work I could achieve it on my own.
The way forward to achieving my house deposit is not by instant gratification, looking cool and impressing people but instead through putting my head down, living within my means, planning ahead, going without and being honest about what I can actually afford.
“When it comes to how we fare in the marathon of life, effort counts tremendously.”
– Duckworth 2017, 47
Age is on your side
My boss, our MBA Director, often talks to me about failing fast. He knows about how much I hate to let people down and how hard I work on the curriculum work I do to ensure it is right for my clients.
Part of writing about my house deposit goal on this site was to keep me accountable because the thought of trying to get through and save $60K on my own seemed unreachable. Bigger goals come in, like author, Rachel Smith, pointed out in her book Underspent, even when she lost her job along the way her goals and journey worked out, the larger goal and her tenacity to achieve it worked through for the better with another job opportunity on the horizon.
“Grit grows as we figure out our life philosophy, learn to dust ourselves off after rejection and disappointment, and learn to tell the difference between low level goals that should be abandoned quickly and higher-level goals require more tenacity.”
– Duckworth 2017, 86
How can you apply Harvard Professor Angela Duckworth’s wisdom to your financial or other large and long term goals?
- Realise that there is always a way and find people along the way to inspire you
- Understand the excellence comes with habit – talent is not effortless
- Feel safe in the assumption that age is on your side – because do you know what, “I get knocked down but I get up again you’re never going to keep me down”
Most importantly the sooner you start to carve out your own path and dreams that make your own heart sing the happier you will be. This has become abundantly clear to be in the sheer joy I am getting from my everyday cycling.
What are you working towards? What makes you get up in the morning? What continues to drive you? What advice can you share?
The Economiss is a single, female, millennial on a mission to buy her first home in Australia. A Kiwi by birth, she jumped over the ditch after she finished her tertiary qualifications in search of employment. The narratives quite often showing up online overshadowed her thoughts of buying a house alone changed in 2017 The Economiss started super charging her finances and saved over 30% of her after tax income towards her house deposit as well as cash flowing four overseas trips. In 2018 The Economiss decided to create a new narrative and share her journey saving 36% of her after tax income for a $60,000 house deposit by December 2018. Do you have some tips to share or want to be featured on the blog, please get in touch!