No matter how hard we try, we never seem to get it all right… all the time! We were taught as kids that practice makes perfect, and this phrase set us up for unrealistic expectations. At some point in our future, we figured we would get it perfect. All we needed to do was keep trying and keep practising.
A different way to phrase that saying could be that practice makes progress, not perfection. Progress is far more accessible, sustainable and encouraging.
Progress acknowledges that we won’t get it right all the time. We will make mistakes, we will take risks, and we will have transitional periods where we slow down from fatigue and overwhelming circumstances.
Because, at the end of the day, that’s how life looks. It’s not steady, it’s not entirely predictable, and it’s certainly not perfect. This is why our finances don’t follow a straight line of growth. When we get battered in life, our finances get battered. We can mitigate that battering, and we can bolster reserves and protections, but our money will be affected.
It can be enormously disheartening when this happens; especially when the losses are high and they are accompanied by emotional trauma and loss. Most people cannot get back up on their own – and it’s likely that we were never supposed to do it alone.
We need the support, advice, patience, and love of our family and friends. And, we need to rebuild in bite-sized chunks.
There’s a lovely quote that says the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. It reminds us that we need to break it down into bite-sized chunks when we’re faced with a seemingly impossible task. Another quote that is similar to this is one the Chinese proverb that says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.”
When we have been knocked back (or completely flattened) in our financial plan, the best way to regain control is to tackle it in bite-sized chunks. After the turmoil of the initial shock, we need to return to the basics of budgeting, where we become mindful of daily spending and monthly responsibilities. We first work to reclaim control in this area – it could take a few months to take a few years.
This will be an empowering journey, not just for our finances but also for our personal growth and well-being. As our headspace heals and our heart beats more steadily, we will be able to engage more strategically with our financial plan again.
This doesn’t happen overnight – it happens one bite-sized chunk at a time. This is how we build and rebuild a robust life measured by progress, not perfection.