I loved to bake. Muffins, homemade French bread, homemade sandwich bread, cakes, brownies, you name it, I made it.
And then I found out I was gluten and wheat intolerant. I tried to bake gluten free items, but I didn’t understand how all of the different flours worked, and after making pan after pan of hard, tasteless gluten free baked goods, I gave up.
Just recently I tried again, and this time I hit upon success. I learned how to make my own gluten free all purpose flour (thanks to the Internet), and I found a recipe for gluten free pumpkin bread. I used that recipe and altered it to make a delicious, sugar free, GF banana bread. But my daughter is egg intolerant, so, after I perfected the recipe, I experimented with making it egg free, and again, I came up with a good bread.
My love of baking is returning.
What does this have to do with personal finance?
Actually, quite a bit, especially as we enter the last few weeks of 2013 and head into 2014.
In just a few short weeks you’ll notice blog writers changing their focus from how to save on holiday gifts to setting goals for the new year and steps to achieving your goals, especially financial goals.
Maybe it’s that people drink too much during the holidays, or maybe it’s that people are unbelievably optimistic as they head into the new year, but many of us set ridiculously difficult New Year’s goals. And then we’re disappointed with and hard on ourselves when we fail. (And often we fail the first week of the new year.)
Change takes time
Change is a step-by-step process, and it can be a long, painful journey.
It took me a year to finally learn how to make a good gluten free bread and enjoy cooking again.
Likewise, my husband and I are 25 long months into our debt repayment journey, and we’re only now reaching the halfway point.
In those 25 months, though, we’ve learned how to wait to purchase things we want rather than rushing right out and buying them, and we’ve learned to stay within our budget. Would I like to be debt free now? You bet. But I also appreciate the valuable lessons I’m learning along the way. After all, those lessons will help us stay out of debt forever in the years to come.
As you enter this holiday season, go ahead and think about things in your life that you’d like to change. Maybe you’d like to put more money in an emergency fund or add to your retirement account. Set your financial goals, but don’t expect changes in your behavior to happen automatically. Know that any good change in habit takes months, maybe years, to be cemented in as a permanent part of your fabric. Be patient with yourself and know that each step you make in the right direction is a step that is getting you closer to your goal.
What steps do you take to make sure you are achieving your goals?
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York, where she loves the natural beauty of the area.