Something I’ve learned over the course of the last year is that you can’t always predict triumphs, and you can’t predict setbacks. Since I started this blog, we’ve had several minor setbacks and a few major ones, and in each case, I’ve (eventually) looked toward the future and felt that we’d be able to get back on track for the long term, even if the short term wasn’t looking quite so good. However, when we had some small or not-so-small triumphs in the form of unexpected income that could be applied to debt, I immediately started thinking about readjusting our goals and speeding up our debt reduction plan.
Which, in reality, is setting myself up to not be able to meet my goals. Just as we have had unexpected things happen monetarily in a positive direction, we’ve also had things happen in a negative direction we couldn’t have predicted. And if I shift up my goals in response to every positive occurrence, I’ll have to shift them back downward every time something negative happens. And I really do not like to shift things backwards. Goals aren’t effective when they are constantly moving targets.
This is not to say that I don’t want to get out of debt ahead of our original December 2010 goal. I would be more than thrilled if we do manage to get out of debt in 2009, and I am still hopeful that we can make that happen. I will continue my focus on snowflaking and generating new sources of alternative income and dedicating every penny we have to debt reduction. But reasonable long-term goals help keep things in perspective. Just because December 2010 is my goal doesn’t mean I can’t come in ahead of it. But I don’t necessarily need to constantly adjust my long-term goals to reflect that.
A commenter named Jane said this as part of her comment on one of my recent posts about the car repairs:
This doesn’t put you behind, just less ahead than you’d hoped.
And it really resonated with me. Keeping my eye on the long-term goal of being out of debt in 2010, this recent setback is just a (somewhat large) blip on the screen of my entire financial horizon. December 2010 is still firmly in reach. And I can’t forget that.