It’s 12:30 am in Boston. Are you ready to bunker down for 28 days with a variety of nutritionally balanced canned meals while the government quells the zombie infestation? I am. $96 worth of preparation. Mostly in the form of Progresso and Campbell’s. As someone who works for a non profit credit counseling agency, I believe in being financially prepared for anything – including zombies.
Well, not quite. Here’s the back story.
I’m focusing this year on boning up on my practical Activities of Daily Life skills. Cooking, exercising, meditating, taking care of domestic business like a mature adult. I’m a public speaker for a living, but man this stuff is wicked hard for me.
Failing to meet myself where I am
I aimed to make it impossible for me not to cook for myself. I wouldn’t buy pre-prepared foods (plus this is more expensive). This has mostly just resulted in me eating a number of delivery dinners with a heaping side of You-Fail-Guilt. (Definitely made them taste funny). I’ve gotten home from teaching at 9:30 pm and then practically starved until the next morning because I had no energy to cook. Strategy for success? Not so much.
You may be thinking- make a meal plan for the week, grocery shop in the morning, then take the time on Sunday afternoon to make your meals for the week. You can portion it out, freeze it, easy and no problem.
Oh hai- thx for the epiphaneez.
Preparing for Zombies
After talking with my mom and then my dad on the phone about how I felt exhausted and awful I got it into my head that I needed to never feel this way again.
11:30 pm I bounded out of my room, grabbed my keys and hopped into the car in a frenzy to buy nutritional back-up.
11:45 pm First grocery is closed at the reasonable hour of 11 pm.
12 am Find open grocery store and proceed to stock pile soups, Spaghetti-O’s, chili, and a few packages of chicken sausage. And one container of cottage cheese- don’t ask. This is similar to not being able to sleep and shopping on Amazon at 2 am. Only I’m wide-eyed pushing a grocery cart out in public.
12:20 am As I place my dozens upon dozens of cans on the cashier belt the folks in line behind me give me looks like: Did we miss a news report? It’s summer so there aren’t any blizzards, so… This girl is nuts. I then literally say to the person behind me that I’m preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse. (Nervous laughter ensues from both parties). I then pay $96 and haul all the bags into my car’s front seat with the feeling of success one may get when they finish a half-marathon. Success!
12:45 am Finish a satisfying bowl of Spaghetti-O’s and fall asleep.
Moral of the Story
Cooking healthy and cost-effective meals is an important goal that I actually have been making good movement on. But, I took an all-or-nothing strategy, even when I knew this is not a good idea for reaching goals. Rather than setting a SMART goal (specific, measurable, attainable, reviewable and time-bound) I said “Enough, Julie. Get yourself in gear or starrrrrrrrrrrrrrve” And you now know how well that worked.
Saving money, paying down debt, or successfully making beef stew are great goals. But so many of us try to shove ourselves violently out of our old habits, rather than take the time to figure out where we are.
Point 1: Using the SMART goal style helps work towards a goal in a reasonable way that won’t drive you crazy. By specifically stating what you’re working towards and figuring out how to measure movement towards success you can do away with the all-or nothing and the as soon as possible mentality.
Non-specific goal: I want a save money (umm yeah, who doesn’t?)
SMART goal style
Specifically: I want to save $60 a month towards a new camera for my photography hobby
Measurable: Each month I will be $60 closer to my goal
Attainable: I can save this money by spending $15 less each week on Dunkin Donuts breakfast
Reviewable: Each month I will track my spending for a week to make sure that I’m saving $15 a week on Dunkin Donuts compared to how much I’m spending now ($25 a week)
Time-bound: In 5 months I will be able to pay cash for my camera!
Point 2: while you’re working towards your goals ask yourself some of these questions:
• What can I reasonably expect of myself while I move towards my goal?
• Am I treating myself with respect as I move towards this goal or am I treating myself as both angry parent and scolded child? (Aka laying the guilt on yourself, calling yourself names)
• How do I feel and what am I thinking about when I find resistance towards the goal? (For me: what am I thinking when I can’t bring myself to cook that night? Or for others: what’s really going on in my head when I take $100 out of savings to buy a 3rd pair of new sneakers this week?)
Perhaps write out a small goal for yourself in terms of SMART and be kind and reasonable with yourself while attaining it.
As for me- I will not starve myself anymore while I learn to cook. This will save me money (no more desperate delivery calls) and support me towards the real goal: self-sufficiency.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.