If you’re on Facebook right now then you’ve probably seen people participating in the “profile pic challenge.” The way it works is you’re challenged to post your first-ever profile picture side by side with your current one to show how much you have changed.
However, a 10-year-old picture of me at my brother’s wedding had recently appeared on my Facebook wall and already provided a stark reminder of the extra weight I have put on over those years. For that reason I knew I would not be taking part in this viral activity until I had dropped a few pounds and taken a new profile picture.
As someone who has never really focused on weight loss, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I started by Googling tips on how to lose weight. When I did, what surprised me was how similar the suggestions were to the advice I give people wanting to get out of debt.
I discovered that the principals involved in getting in shape, both financially and physically, were not only similar, but nearly identical. Once I recognized this simple fact I felt more capable of losing weight than I had when I started.
I’m proud to say that over the past month I have lost about 10 pounds and hope to drop 10 more before I stop. If your new year’s resolution is dumping some weight (or some debt), I hope these tips are as helpful to you as they were for me.
1. Keep a journal. The first step in taking control of both your finances and your waistline is to know what’s happening. As much as I preach the importance of a budget, I didn’t follow my own advice when it came to my diet. I found by tracking everything I ate and knowing how many calories I was allowed to spend each day empowered me to do more with less and forced me to stop impulse snacking, much the same way a budget helps you make intentional decisions with how you will spend your money.
2. Identify the true reason foryour behavior. Whether it’s eating or spending money, oftentimes the motivation behind your actions can be unclear. I have learned that things like boredom, stress or sadness can cause you to over-indulge when you shouldn’t. Identifying the real motivation behind your behavior can help to remove emotion from your actions. When it comes to my diet, I have found eating when I wasn’t even hungry was very destructive. Similarly buying things not out of necessity can lead to many financial woes.
3. Plan for the unexpected. Whether it be a last-minute dinner party with friends, or an unplanned car repair, things happen that are unanticipated. By accounting for them in both your diet and your budget you can weather these storms far more successfully.
4. Seek support from others. A recent Harvard study found that regardless of what diet the participants used, individuals who were part of a weight-loss support group lost more weight. In fact, on average they lost 225 percent more weight. While I don’t have a study proving it, I would argue the results of being part of a support group for debt reduction are exactly the same. There is something about the human condition that makes you more successful when working with others.
5. Don’t give up. Part of being human is having setbacks. Part of being successful is not throwing in the towel when they occur. I have no doubt before I reach my goal of losing 20 pounds I will gain some of what I have lost back. Mentally, by accepting this, I hope to be ready to work even harder once it happens. The same can be said for your finances. My advice to you is to keep at it.
I want to challenge you all in 2019 to make it a year of real self-improvement, but I also want to encourage you that you can do it. I know it won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it. If anyone is interested in sharing both their successes and their setbacks with me I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to have you as part of my support group.
(Advice is intended to be general in nature)
Luke Davis is the director of operations and compliance at Stewardship Capital in Independence.