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How To Make A Goal That Inspires You To Action

[1] Start w/the Easy Pickin's, Step #2: Make an Audacious, Idealistic Goal

 

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by Jared MacIlvaine in Out of Debt ASAP Chapters

What’s up ASAPers! Today marks week #4 of blogging out my new book, Out of Debt ASAP, live every Thursday! Enjoy Chapter 4!

Ok, it’s so obvious I’m almost embarrassed to say it…everyone knows that watermelons are shaped like an egg and not a cube. This is just basic, common knowledge, right? When a watermelon is left to grow on its own, you get a big, green, ovoidal product every time.

But, what if you wanted to break from the status quo and create a cube-shaped watermelon? How could you do that? Would it even be possible? Could you just think and wish really hard that your watermelon would grow into a cube? Not likely.

So, how in the world did these things come into being?

Look at those beautiful, perfectly-shaped, CUBED watermelons. They stack nicely and don’t waste any space…and they’re no accident. These things are all the exact-same-sized cube by design. Here’s a look under the hood:

Left to grow on their own, watermelons will do the naturally easiest thing…keep expanding outward in an ovoidal shape. However, the gardener has the choice to make the watermelon any shape he wants by engineering a strategy (and in this case, a plexiglass cube) to force the watermelon into growing how he pleases.

In the same way, if you let your debt pay-off go however the wind blows, it is likely to drag on for a really long time. You’d probably end up following exactly the payment plan that your bank has laid out for you. Or worse, you’d fall into the trap of a “graduated repayment plan” and wind up doubling your loan term and the interest you’ll pay on your loan, just for the sake of artificially lowering your payment each month.

BUT, by choosing a specific size and shape for your debt pay-off, you will naturally fit the mold you have engineered for yourself. For example, if you choose and commit with grit to pay off your loans in 5 years, you’ll rise to the occasion and pay them off in 5 years. If you commit with grit to a 3 year debt pay-off, you’ll pay them in 3 years, and finally if you commit with grit to 1 year or 18 months or 2 years, then guess what…you’ll pay off your debt in those amounts of time as well.

That’s because, when we create a specific goal for ourselves—and then commit to it with grit & determination—we are exceedingly capable of rising to the challenge and meeting those goals.

So, the question is…what kind of box do you want to shape for your debt pay-off? How much longer do you want to deal with your student loans? My guess is that if you’re reading this book, you’d like to pay them off as soon as possible. Or maybe you’re reading this book, because you know what you want do something about your debt, but you’re not yet convinced that paying your loans off ASAP is the way to go.

If that’s you, or if you’re feeling a bit skeptical or uneasy about making an audacious goal for paying off your student loans, I think it will be a helpful revelation for us take a quick look at the subject of interest.

This is a sneaky cost that we can forget about at times because of our focus on our actual loan balance itself. But the truth is, if you calculate your interest costs, it can be pretty surprising how much extra you’ll end up paying, and it also can be a huge motivating factor for you as you seek to get rid of the monster burden that they are.

Now, there’s two main numbers that are important to know about the interest on your loans:

  1. The total interest that will be spent over the life of your loan, and…
  2. The monthly interest payment on your loans.

First, let’s take a look at the total interest over the life of your loan, and let’s use my real-life example from my debt pay-off. Rachel and I had $72,500 of student loan debt, and our creditors had put us on a 10-year repayment plan.

Our average interest rate was pretty good at 5%, but even with that interest rate, had we paid our loans in 10 years, we would’ve spent an additional $19,777 just in interest. That would have made the total amount we spent on our loans $92,277.

The hard truth is that you don’t really “owe” what you owe…you owe the interest too. For us, it meant we would owe an additional $20,000 when it was all said and done. Thankfully, however, we committed to paying off our debt in under 2 years, and we only ended up spending $3,200 total in interest.

Curious what your numbers are? Well, I’ve made it easy for you. Whenever you sign-up for my free 30-Day Challenge at outofdebtasap.com (coming summer 2017!), you will get access to my “Mission Control Spreadsheet” which has a space in it where you can calculate your total interest cost for any duration you like. Just plug in the number of months: 120 months (10 years), 36 months, 18 months, 12 months, etc, and the spreadsheet will calculate the exact amount you’ll spend in interest automatically for you.

Another relevant number when thinking of interest is your monthly interest payment. I think this number is important to know as well, because it hits a little closer to home. This is the amount of your hard-earned money you’re giving to your creditors every single month. For Rachel and I, we were paying $300/month in interest…yuck!

Calculating your MIP is super easy. Take 5 seconds right now to calculate your MIP using this graphic as a guide: (the numbers used are the US national average as of 2017)

Ok, so now you know your MIP…right? (BTW, if you’re not sure exactly what your numbers are, go ahead and make an educated guess so you can have a ball-park idea of what your MIP is).

This number is basically your forced monthly “thank you” gift to the bank for giving you your loan, and NONE of the money from your MIP goes toward decreasing your principal balance. It’s just 100% sweet, juicy profit for the bank.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, I just think it’s healthy to know numbers like this, because it puts your financial situation into perspective. It’s also showing you exactly how much it’s costing you to keep your debt around…in the average person’s case, it costs them $185/month to follow the “suggested payment plan”, not to mention the total interest added up over the life of the loan.

Ok, so hopefully all these numbers are reinforcing your desire to get out of debt ASAP. It is the absolute best way to deal with your loans, and it brings us to the next obvious question:

What’s a realistic timeframe to pay off your specific debt balance?

This is a great question, but I would suggest not making “what’s realistic” a basis for making your goal. Why? Well, I’m guessing that 10 years or 15 years or even 5 years are all realistic time frames for paying off your debt. BUT, that does not solve your craving for being free from it ASAP. Plus, I just love this quote from Will Smith on the matter:

“Being realistic is the most commonly travelled road to mediocrity. Why would you be realistic? What’s the point of being realistic? I’m going to do it. It’s done. It’s already done. The second I decide it’s done, it’s already done. It’s just that now we gotta wait for y’all to see.”

What if you were to choose an audacious, idealistic goal with that kind of belief and determination?

That’s what this chapter—and really this entire book—is all about. It’s time to forget about being realistic and start being idealistic. Your future depends on it. Your family or future family is counting on you.

It would be a mistake to count up your income and your bills and then, based on those numbers, figure out “how long it will take you” to pay off your debt. That’s letting the watermelon grow wild. You gotta choose your ideal size of the “box”, and then force your situation to fall in line with your will.

Your future self, three years down the line, is begging for you to take a stand today; to make an idealistic, audacious, scary goal and then commit to it with dogged determination and work ethic. You only risk regret if you don’t make such a goal.

So, where does reality come into play?

Well, once you make your audacious goal, then you simply work to make it a reality.

It’s not that you’re living in a fairytale land. It’s that you’re making a choice to do something extra-ordinary, and then you’re putting the pedal to the medal on the very realistic Out of Debt ASAP strategy by hacking your student loans, putting a calculated plan in place, and embarking on your Smart Side-Hustlin’ adventure.

Rambling on the matter of being realistic, Will Smith also had this to say:

“The greatest dreams are always unrealistic. It’s unrealistic to walk in a room, flip a switch and have the lights come on. That’s unrealistic — fortunately Thomas Edison didn’t think so. It’s unrealistic to think you’re going to bend a piece of metal and fly people over an ocean in a tube of metal. That’s unrealistic, but fortunately the Wright Brothers didn’t believe that.”

In my book, Grit Vs Debt, I share the story of how my wife and I decided to pay off our $72,500 student loan balance in 1-2 years. We had absolutely no business making that goal. We lived in Seattle, which has a very high cost of living, and we were making $45,000/year combined in salary, basically all of which went to living expenses and covering our minimum loan payments.

We had mediocre jobs and no real reason to think we could pay off our debt that quick.

BUT, it didn’t matter. We chose an audacious, scary goal, and we committed to it…game over. 20 months later, we were completely debt-free. The ensuing 20 months held all sorts of adventure and challenge, ups and downs. Several of my friends (I would find out after we accomplished our goal) thought we were foolish and crazy for making such a goal. “$72,500 in 2 years? With their jobs? Living in Seattle? There’s no way they could do that,” they thought.

Well, they didn’t know just how serious we were about our goal. Marcus Lemonis, billionaire and the star of one of my favorite TV shows, The Profit, says, “Success and performance are the best ways to shut people up.” If you come across people that tell you you’re crazy for having an audacious goal, or if you can just see it on their face when you tell them about it, let that become a chip on your shoulder that multiplies your motivation to prove them wrong.

There’s nothing quite like silencing the naysayers.

Ok, so what exactly should your goal be? Well, unless you have a student loan balance that’s well into the 6 figures, I think your goal should land somewhere in between 6 and 36 months. That’s a fairly big range, and determining where exactly to land is up to you, however I think anything longer than 36 months (3 years) isn’t really audacious in nature and should be avoided as much as possible. Three years is already a long time, and anything longer than that will just start to feel like it’s out of reach.

Some factors you’ll want consider as you pinpoint exactly how many months you want to give yourself include: your current income, future income prospects, how much time/flexibility you have in your schedule, and your current season of life (single, married, kids, etc.).

However, those factors should be loosely held. I have found that we have a tendency to want to give ourselves more time than we actually need. The most important factors you want to use in determining what I call your “Audacious Deadline” are urgency and ideality.

Ideally, your goal should scare you, and you shouldn’t even know exactly how you’re going to accomplish it when you make it. This is the essence of adventure. You want to make a goal that will stretch you; a goal that will require you to find new abilities and develop new skills that you don’t currently have.

If you know exactly how you’ll accomplish your goal ahead of time, you won’t really be that inspired by it. Several years ago, I decided I was going to run a marathon. The thought of running 26.2 miles without stopping was a total mystery to me. I had a sense of awe and reverent fear about the goal that pushed me to train, research, and condition myself in ways I never would’ve imagined, had I not made the insane goal of running 26.2 miles in a row without stopping.

So, do yourself a favor and pick an audacious deadline. If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not good enough. If it doesn’t strike awe into you, it’s not audacious enough. If it doesn’t seem soon and borderline impossible, you should consider shortening it.

The more “unlikely” your goal is, the more captivated your Student Loan Hacking Blog’s audience will be. The more daring your deadline, the more healthy pressure you’ll feel to the rise to the occasion and be a boss. If Frodo and Samwise Gamgee had an incredibly doable mission to accomplish, the Lord of the Rings would be boring.

Ok, having said all of that, I want to invite you into this moment right now:

Have you ever been cliff jumping? I don’t know about you, but every time I go cliff jumping, and I look down at the water below before my first jump of the day, I am full of butterflies. I know I want to jump…at least I think I do. I know it’s going to be fun and that I like cliff jumping a lot. However, it is a bit nerve-racking and scary as I look down at the distance between where I am and where I’m headed.

But then I remember, I need to stop thinking and analyzing and JUST JUMP.

And that’s what I want to invite you to do right now. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s risky. And YES, there’s a good chance you’ll be full of regret in a few years if you don’t make and commit to an audacious goal in this very moment.

I have provided below a general guideline for what your audacious goal could look like. The numbers provided below are a general range, and should serve as handrails as you choose and buy-in to your own goal:

Handrail Numbers for an Audacious Goal for Paying Off Your Student Loans:

  • Around $25,000: 6-12 months
  • Around $50,000: 12-18 months
  • Around $75,000: 18-24 months
  • Around $100,000: 24-30 months
  • $100,000+: 30-36 months

Ok, with these numbers as general handrails, I’ll close out this chapter by challenging you to decide on your audacious goal within the next 15 minutes. Then, once you’ve made your goal, calculate what your “Audacious Deadline” date will be and put it on the calendar.

You have everything you need to make your goal. You don’t need to do more analysis. You don’t need to make more calculations. You just need to take your financial situation into your own hands, look at the handrail numbers above, say a prayer for direction, and pick a number.

Ok, now JUST JUMP!

 

GET THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!

Learn the full story of how we paid off $72.5k of student loans in 20 months!

It's totally FREE!
100% privacy guaranteed! No messin' around!