I’m a detail appreciator. And I find with clarity comes increased motivation.

Back in university at U.B.C. when I studied Physical Education, or “Gym” as some kindly called it, I was extra inspired to exercise more when I kept a detailed calendar. For a couple of years, I did mini-triathlons (even though I am not a strong swimmer or cyclist) and I would write down each day what I had done such as a 5 mile run or half mile swim, etc. At the end of a few months, seeing the totals for each sport was very satisfying, and of course on the day of the event, I was glad to have those miles behind me, literally and figuratively. (I’ll save the story of how I ran one race with an injury that felt like I had a knife in my foot for another time – maybe for a blog about stubbornness?!)

Whether for exercise or saving money or any other goals, I find if I leave it vague and “out there” I am less inspired, but if I keep track, I stay on track.

Staying on track doesn’t mean I’m going to be crazy strict though. If I want to, I just may jump over into the other lane, or run zig zag if I feel like it. As long as I’m ultimately going in the right direction, regardless of speed.

You should see our accounting booklet. It’s just one of those casual notebooks you can get from the dollar store but it’s perfect for jotting down the numbers, and the pages are filled to the rim with totals, additions, and subtractions. It’s…ahem…not always pretty, but it helps clarify the details.

Every payday I go through the figures to see exactly what we have, what we will pay out in the next two weeks, and how much is left. And every few days I keep my eye on that remaining total as it dwindles, both on paper and in the online account. If we have $400 available for two weeks of living and then we spend a good chunk on gas, groceries, and pet food, etc., I make sure to be clear on how much is left for the remaining time until next payday.

With this clarity, I’m able to see what we truly need for regular life and move an extra few dollars here and there to different savings accounts. I get the pleasure of seeing those numbers rise, like on the calendar of miles I used to run, instead of vaguely leaving it up in the air.

Of course you need to find the process that works for you, but however it’s manifested, whether totally tidy or a bit messy and zig zaggy, the road of clarity is a good thing and can help you cross whatever finish line, big or small, you have in mind (without any stabbing foot pain!).

And no matter how you compare with others, you will be the winner of your own race, one mile, and one dollar at a time.

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