Last year was a doozy. 2012 will be remembered for a lot of things: the year of the Mayan Apocalypse, the year of the Fiscal Cliff, the year of a hard-fought U.S. election, the year of oddly powerful natural disasters and hurricanes…
If your year was anything like mine, it was full of change. It was full of personal, emotional and spiritual trials and upending transitions. I changed jobs, moved three times in the past nine months, travelled to 14 states, and launched The Empowered Dollar. Phew! That’s a lot for one person to handle.
For me, 2012 was the Year of Change – which is why I’m so excited for 2013, the Year of Quiet Persistence.
Discovering My Secret (and Quiet) Identity
As my life changed around me last year, I changed too. And I discovered a lot about myself that I hadn’t acknowledged in the past. One of the biggest realizations: I’m actually a closet introvert. Even some of my friends laugh when I tell them that I’m embracing my newly discovered introversion. It’s a label I would have never used to describe my personality – that is, before I heard Susan Cain speak at the World Domination Summit this past summer.
When I first suspected that I was a secret introvert, I struggled rectifying my reserved, thoughtful personality with my seemingly extroverted, day-to-day self. I’m a goal-oriented go-getter. I’m sociable and smiley with strangers and I get along with all kinds of people. But I love to retreat into my own world, to spend an entire afternoon daydreaming and listening to music or riding my bike alone. I’m personable and chatty at work, but can’t wait to head home, ignore the world around me, and dive into a good book.
After hearing Susan Cain, I naturally wanted to learn more about my secret introvert identity, so I picked up her book Quiet. As she explains it, introversion isn’t a social deficiency. Introversion doesn’t mean “shyness.” It just means that I have preferences for how I interact with people. I prefer to listen rather than talk. I prefer intense, one-on-one conversations to group situations.
But you wouldn’t know that if you interacted with me at a conference, at work or at a happy hour. I love public speaking (when I’m well prepared) and I love telling jokes and making a big group of people laugh. I’m a classic pseudo-extrovert: outgoing, sociable and engaging when my heart is in what I’m doing, but I need time alone to reenergize.
2013: Keep the Drama, Give me Consistency
The introvert characteristic in the book that resonated with me most is that of “Quiet Persistence.” It’s the ability to stick to a task or a goal, without any incredible external reward and with the patience and dedication to see a task through until it’s end. And it’s what introverts rock at.
Quiet Persistence doesn’t mean that you can’t have incredible goals. It simply means that the change you want in your life doesn’t require a earth-shattering event. Change, especially for patient and reserved introverts, can come in the form of continuous, thoughtful labor and planning. You don’t need to do something dramatic to grow and evolve; tenacity and endurance is enough.
Pretty zen, right? And it’s the perfect strategy for any of your 2013 financial goals.
The Keys to Quiet Financial Persistence
If you’re a college student or twenty-something looking to invest for the first time or wondering how the hell you’re going to tackle that $40,000 student loan bill, you need one skill: quiet persistence. If you’re wishing you had a little more cushion in the bank or your credit card balance is keeping you up at night, just remember: quiet persistence. Tackling your goals in little increments with patience, planning and purpose is a powerful thing.
So how do you go about achieving your goals through Quiet Persistence?
- Create systems. Need some help keeping your resolutions beyond January? Systems will help you with persistence. Systems will allow you to continuously make progress toward your goal with minimal effort. The best example of this is setting up automatic contributions to your savings account or 401(k). This “set it and forget it” technique will help you stay consistent.
- Set intermittent benchmarks for success. Not reaching your goal sucks. But if you set an audacious goal like paying down $30,000 in debt in one year and you only pay down half of it, you’ve still done something incredible. So be sure to measure and track the small successes, like your halfway point toward your goal or your decision to open up a retirement account. This will make sure you have moments to…
- Celebrate yourself. Don’t forget to be proud of where you are now and any baby steps you take to get to where you want to go. Remember that you’re awesome for setting goals in the first place
My Quiet Persistence Goals for 2013
Here is how I’m applying quiet persistence to my 2013 goals:
- Continue paying off my student loans at a steady pace. I’ve come to terms with the fact that no one will bail me out of my debt, so consistency and tenacity are key. I’ve applied these principles to help me pay off almost $20,000 in three years, and I’d like to continue that.
- Put my medium-term savings into a steady-growth investment vehicle. I was shocked to learn the other week that the amount of money I had saved equaled my student debt. If I’m not going to use my cash to pay off my interest on my loans, then I want to see this money grow. I worked hard to earn it, so it should start working equally as hard for me. I’m not looking for any short-term wins or flashy investments – just steady growth that I can depend on.
- Strengthen my existing professional network. This one appeals directly to the introvert in me. I have a lot of strong existing connections, and I want to leverage those. I plan to reconnect with my favorite bloggers, thought leaders in financial education, and other people I admire who have done kick-ass things to advance the cause of personal finance.
I have a few more “extreme” resolutions on my list (like biking from Seattle to Portland in the summer). But even those goals require small steps patience and perseverance.
In general, I hope 2013 lets me slow down a bit, while continuing steady path toward my goals. And along the way, I’ll be enjoying my progress with my own internal quiet celebrations.
What are your Quiet Persistence goals for 2013?