Whether you're sweating it out at the gym or finally putting pen to paper and creating a budget, getting physically and financially healthy requires attention, moderation, focus and determination.
It Starts with Self-Control
It doesn't matter if it's financially or physically -- there are a ton of things that we want in life. Whether it's a vacation, a new car, a milkshake or a bowl of mac-n-cheese, moderation is key. Amy Clover, founder of Strong Inside Out, which empowers people to develop fitness and positive mindsets, says she teaches her clients the "90 percent principle." This means that 90 percent of the time, you eat healthy (whole or minimally processed foods and those with no added sugars). She says the other 10 percent should be reserved for those things you just can't do without, because completely knocking out the foods you enjoy could backfire.
Money follows the same suit. It's hard to make a clean cut when breaking habits, and spending habits are included. Instead of eliminating your daily Starbucks (SBUX) run, happy hours with friends or dining out, turn these events into celebrations for when you hit small financial goals. Or cap them at $50, $100 or $200 or whatever a month. Practice self-control and do not budge on the ceiling.
Focus on the Trouble Spots
How many of us avoid working out because that last 5 or 10 pounds doesn't seem to budge? Or the jiggle never seems to firm up? What about with your finances? How many of us avoid tracking spending because we're terrified of what the numbers will tell us? News flash: These trouble areas are the ones that need the most work.
If you're ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away, the issue is likely growing and creating a bigger problem down the road. For fitness, Clover recommends working on problem areas twice a week -- and knocking them out first in your workout. Doing this gets you through the tough part first and you're able to focus on other things.
Your money problem areas may not require twice-a-week check-ins (unless it's spending, which you'll need to monitor daily at first), but it may be the debt you're letting build up, the emergency savings that you haven't started or the enrollment in your employer benefits program. Start small and break down areas you need to address.
Determine Your "Why"
Before you're hit the gym or tackle spreadsheets, ask yourself "Why am I doing this?" and also "Why is this specifically important to me?" Clover says getting in shape through exercise benefits us physically, and it also relieves symptoms of depression, anxiety and chronic stress. With money, having clarity and organization can also relieve anxiety and stress.
Being healthy and wealthy doesn't happen overnight. Be good to yourself and practice self-control, focus and discipline. Get clear on your vision for what a healthy future looks like and means to you and then get to work
Mary Beth Storjohann is a certified financial planner for Gen Y. She created Nine Steps to Workable Wealth to help you make smart choices with your money.