I’m not that great at running.
I can do it, and actually run perhaps a mile or so twice a week now thanks to our gym membership, but it’s something I find challenging.
Since I’m a person who likes a good challenge, for most of my life − at least as long as I can remember − I’ve played a trick on myself to nudge past my physical limitation with running.
Whether it was on a treadmill, lapping around the tennis courts before tennis practice in high school, or running along the bayou near our home, I would choose a stop point that I was happy with.
The mental note sounded something like this, “I’ll make it to that telephone pole at the curve, and then I’m done”, or “I’ll get to 0.75 miles and then I’m good to go.”
Once I reached that stop point − panting, sweating, but still in one piece − I’d tell myself to go one notch more.
Yes, I could have celebrated that I had made it to where I wanted to be. But instead, I challenged myself to push just a little bit more, whether that was one telephone pole more, 1.25 miles instead of 1.00 miles on the treadmill, or an extra quarter lap.
And then I would do it.
Here’s the crazy thing: I’ve never actually failed to make good on these extra challenges.
Seriously − not. one. time.
This leads me to believe that my brain is waaaayyy more in the way of me pushing through my “physical limitations” than my body is.My brain is way more in the way of me pushing through my 'physical limitations' than my body is. Click To Tweet
And if that’s the case, then think of what else my brain and yours have been getting in the way of!
Use this Mental Trick in Your Personal Finances
You can use this trick for just about anything.
But we’re here to talk about money.
So here’s some examples of how you can apply this to your finances:
- Savings Account Rally: When you’re setting up your automatic withdrawals to your savings account, first figure out what you are comfortable with. Then, take it up a notch by challenging yourself to do just $25 more. What’s another $25 to you? The worst that can happen is you can’t sustain the new amount, in which case you can change your automatic withdrawal amount down the road (to an extra $12.50…come on, you can do half the original challenge amount!). And the best that can happen? You give your savings account a $300 raise by the end of the year.
- Retirement Account Contribution Stretch: Does 4% feel like a stretch to your for retirement contributions at work, and you’re more comfortable at 3%? Then stretch yourself to 3.5%. You’re already most of the way there.
- No-Spending Challenge’s Last Lap: You’ve likely thought about taking on a no-spending challenge, whether that’s for a weekend to boost savings or a whole week when you’re suffering from an end-of-the-month drought. So the next one you take on, when you’re on that last date about to celebrate the ability to go get the proverbial latte, tack on an extra day instead.
You might be thinking, “yeah but, when do you stop with this?” In fact, it’s an issue I’ve had myself. I would talk myself into going just one more telephone pole, and then I’d say, “why not just one more?” What I can tell you is that I was able to figure out a suitable ending time without my afternoon run turning into a Forrest Gump cross-country trek.
All this to say, don’t be afraid to up the ante a little bit past what your mind thinks you can achieve!