My husband and I bought our home nearly three years ago, and I still remember the first day we went to tour the house, we were ecstatic. My husband’s cousins lived next door at the time and told us that their neighbors were looking to sell and rather quickly. We later found out that the house needed a good amount of repair, both inside and out. Projects ranged from removing carpet from our master bath to taking down a streetlight in the backyard. Call us crazy but we were thrilled! The opportunity to buy a bigger house within our means and in an area we so highly desired, we thought we had just won the lottery!
I have always loved home renovation shows like Fixer Upper and Love it or List it, but we knew going in that there wouldn’t be crews coming in to demo for us and there’d be no designer to give us the perfect farmhouse look that I love so much. We’d be doing all the work ourselves and the transformation wouldn’t occur in sixty minutes while we ate popcorn on the couch.
I thought, how hard could it be? My husband is rather handy, and I love decorating, organizing, and planning projects. I figured with a spreadsheet or two I could map out each room, what needed to be done, estimate the cost and timeframe in which we could do it, and with that we would slowly start checking things off the list.
I love a good spreadsheet, but the problem with my plans was that I severely underestimated the amount of time it would take to complete each project. Each project would start on track and as my made-up deadline approached, I’d become nervous that we wouldn’t finish in time. Then if we didn’t finish in time, I’d have to push back the next project and the one after that, and so on. Slowly but surely, my entire timeline was off track. I organized and re-organized this list every day for probably six months trying to make my original plans work, which was not healthy or productive on my end.
Instead of taking a moment to appreciate what we had accomplished, I only focused on what we hadn’t. I’m usually an optimist, but at that moment all I could see were the unfinished projects, the things left to do, the things I thought we’d never finish. The road seemed so long.
It wasn’t until I started looking at original pictures of the house that I began to appreciate the progress we had made. I decided to keep my list but do away with arbitrary deadlines that were only discouraging me from starting the next project. Over the last three years we’ve tackled a number of projects and before each one I take a picture so that I can appreciate the work once it’s done. I didn’t stop working towards our end goal, I just modified the approach and it has done wonders for my attitude.
The same idea can be applied to our financial lives. If you set a yearly savings goal but realize halfway through the year that you aren’t halfway to your goal, you can do one of two things. You can either amp up your savings the remainder of the year just to hit a number you set on January 1st, which sounds a lot like me and my stress-inducing spreadsheet or, you can look at what you’ve already saved, give yourself a pat on the back, and then shoot to save at least that over the next six months. When the time comes next year to set your savings goal, you’ll have a more realistic idea of what you can save versus a number you may have pulled out of thin air.
My great-grandfather always told me, “anything worth having is worth working for.” If you’ve set a goal, whether it’s to retire early or have a Joanna Gaines inspired home, take time to appreciate the work you’ve already put in and if you need to modify things a bit, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just because you’ve changed your plans doesn’t mean you’ve failed, so long as you keep going.