What’s Your Obstacle?

No matter what your goals are, no matter what your financial situation is, some obstacle (or obstacles) sits in your way. To get started, here are my biggest obstacles:

Time I have two successful side businesses right now in addition to my main job. Along with time I set aside to spend with my family, this leaves very little free time for unwinding – and, no, multitasking my writing with watching a baseball game is not really unwinding.

Inadequate side business income I would like to quit my “main” job and focus on my side businesses, but the income from them is too inconsistent as of yet to leave me feeling comfortable doing this.

Significant debt load Combining my home loan and my student loans, my debt load is a lot higher than I’m comfortable with. I don’t have a problem with debt in general, but the size of the debt is immense and feels as though it’s in the way of real financial progress for me.

These are easily the three biggest obstacles in my financial life. These are the things keeping me from building our family’s dream home in the country (for those wondering, it’s very similar to our current house, but wheelchair accessible, on a single floor, surrounded on two to three sides by trees, and far enough in the sticks that we can’t see another house) and keeping me from spending lazy afternoons writing and reading in a writing office with a big glass window overlooking some trees.

I realize what the obstacles are, and I know what I need to do to tackle them. Here’s the game plan for tackling each one.

Practice better time management. I find that when I’m really “in the zone” with GTD, I get a lot more productive. What I do is keep a little notebook in my pocket at all times that functions similarly to the “hipster PDA”. Whenever I have an idea or a task that needs to be followed up on, I write it clearly on a single page with whatever sub-notes I need, then I jump onto the next page. Each evening, I process these ideas and tasks. When I get in a flow of doing this, usually during periods where there is less interruption to my daily routine, I get a lot more done and thus feel less crunched for time.

Focus on maximizing one side business over another. Using this approach, I’m moving from my main job being my primary income stream to one of my side businesses being the primary income stream. Then, I can quit my job (as it’s now a secondary income stream with outrageous and inflexible time requirements) and focus on the side businesses.

Commit to strong debt repayment. Right now, my overall income is far above my monthly spending, so I’m using a portion of that to invest. The rest is going to debt repayment – I want to watch those debts go away, and quickly.

What can you do? Spend a few minutes thinking about the primary obstacles in your life that are keeping you from reaching your financial dreams. They can be anything, from not enough time to too many distractions to situations you just don’t want to face.

Then, consider a plan of attack for each of these obstacles. What can you start doing right now that will move you past that obstacle, or at least start significantly chipping away at it?

Many people start planning without the goal in mind. Starting with the goals is sometimes much more powerful.

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  1. Aaron says:

    Good post. Time management is the one that a lot of people, including myself can sometimes have trouble with. When trying to reach a goal, time management is absolutely essential.

  2. Ben Strand says:

    I was reading through your ‘story’ and noticed that you said that debt is good…Wrong! Debt is a tool that companies use against us to keep us poor and in financial distress. You said that your income far exceeds your monthly spending. You also said that you are using your extra money to invest while paying off your debt. Why not stop the investing until you get your debt payed off. I have $67,000.00 in debt and am on a plan to get it payed off in just over 2 years! If you really want to know how to get rid of debt and build wealth for your future, go to http://www.daveramsey.com and learn about his plan.

    once you have payed off all of your debt, you can quit your ‘main’ job and focus on your side jobs!

    thanks,

    Ben Strand

  3. SJean says:

    I have to say, I scorned a little when I read “Inadequate side business income” as an obstacle. No offense intended, it is just difficult for me relate to that as a major obstacle, even though it may very well be an obstacle for you.
    Still, good post, I like how you point to concrete ways you are trying to overcome these.

  4. SJean says:

    Oh and my obstacle is time management/self discipline. I may try your little notebook idea, but really I just need to focus

  5. Brip Blap says:

    I think the obstacle for almost any type of goal is usually fear. The fear can manifest itself in many ways, but that’s usually the base emotion. I think a lot of people (myself included) struggle with the idea that our current ‘side income’ won’t be enough to sustain our lifestyles, but what’s really driving that is a fear of having less. I know that if I made less but was happier with what I was doing my life would be better. It’s just very hard to overcome the fear of giving up that many options and that much control. Fear of debt, fear of lack of money, fear of disapproval, and on and on. Even a lack of time, which might not seem to be from fear, stems primarily from a fear to step away from time-wasting activities (as per the 80/20 rule).

    Anyone who has clarity of vision, enough emotional and physical strength to see themselves through to their goals, and a lack of indecisiveness born from fear is probably going to come out alright in the end. Anyone can do it, but it requires focus and discipline and fearlessness.

  6. cdown says:

    Obstacle 1 by Interpol.

    On a more (or less?) related note, I spend too much time thinking about things, as opposed to doing them.

  7. When I do strategic wealth coaching with my clients, time is frequently a person’s biggest obstacle to wealth. I find that the better team someone has in place and the better systems they have to manage these people, the more time the have both for business and personal activities.

    For example, I personally do a lot of real estate investing besides running a sizeable accounting firm. If it were not for my team of real estate agents, mortgage brokers and property managers, I would never have time for anything other than business and investments.

    Tom Wheelwright

  8. !wanda says:

    Wow, it would scare me if I couldn’t see my neighbors.

  9. Beth says:

    Would you consider high expectations an obstacle? Off the bat, of course not, but if you consider: you’d like to stay home with your baby, but you also want to have x dollars in the bank 14 years from now. If you adjusted that dollar/time goal you might find that you have everything you need already to do what you want with your time.

    Money is important and so are many other things, and we only have a certain amount of time in our lives. I think it’s important to really look at the goals we set and the consequences meeting those goals will have.

    Fortunately I think the YMoYL series will speak to this!

  10. Susy says:

    Perhaps spending too much time reading blogs is my obstacle?

    No really, my obstacle is actually not taking time away. Since both husband and I work from home, we often work all the time. Since there’s not clear definition between “home” and “work” it’s difficult to not just keep working to get more done instead of taking some time to unwind. We often find ourselves still in the office at 11pm trying to get a few more things finished up. But when you own your own business you know income is not guaranteed so you pretty much take whatever comes along. We’re doing better at this. Next year we’ve set limits on the number of certain projects we’ll take on.

  11. Mariette says:

    Time management and procrastination are definitely my obstacles (now that I have a job again – that obstacle has been overcome.) I find myself resentful sometimes of having to manage my time as sometimes I just like to flow with the day and not have to do lists, I find that very relaxing.

    Trent, I don’t know what your company is like (your full-time job one) but sometimes when you tell someone you are going to quit because you need more flexibility with your schedule and less hours – if they really like you they will accomodate that need rather than loose you completely. I know a few people that has happened to.

  12. Mariette says:

    Time management and procrastination are definitely my obstacles (now that I have a job again – that obstacle has been overcome.) I find myself resentful sometimes of having to manage my time as sometimes I just like to flow with the day and not have to do lists, I find that very relaxing.

    Trent, I don’t know what your company is like (your full-time job one) but sometimes when you tell someone you are going to quit because you need more flexibility with your schedule and less hours – if they really like you they will accomodate that need rather than loose you completely. I know a few people that has happened to.

    Also, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and let go of one income stream, thus freeing up the time and focus for the other streams to make more money. If your intention is strong, then it will usually work out, that’s been my experience anyway.

  13. Heather says:

    My obstical is my significant other.
    He refuses to work on a budgeting plan etc. He just wants to spend his money as he pleases, and does not feel as if we need to be “partners” in our “business” (just plain life, not an actual business). This makes it hard to even have a common goal let alone acheive it.

  14. Jeff Pershing says:

    My obstacles are lack of control. I have no control on my salary increase which most people would say i normal however mine is not based on performance or grades or anything. There is a board that decides and they just decide on no criteria. My job also is such that It is very hard to have a side job. I have started a blog hoping that will help. But my major obstacle is just no way to create income as of yet.

  15. rita says:

    obstacles are:

    lack of time (management) – i am saddled with a lot of commitments, and too often i procastinate on my important tasks

    easily distracted – the reason for the first obstacle; i like doing a lot of things all at once, and i often end up not finishing what i started

    math-phobe. i honestly do not like (hate, abhor, loathe) math, numbers or computations. they are a necessary evil though. and i often switch numbers…is there such a thing as being dyslexic with figures?

    lack of experience.

  16. !wanda says:

    @rita: Yes, there is such a disorder that is similar to dyslexia for numbers, called dyscalculia.

  17. 60 in 3 says:

    Time management is what really stood in my way. I started out with GTD and then modified it to suit my needs. I’m now running a successful fitness blog, working a full time job and still managing to spend quality time with my wife, family and friends.

    Gal

  18. Great post! It’s like you read my mind…
    Thanks for the great ideas. I’ll try them out. I dislike sacrificing sleep!

  19. I could have written this article. I to am starting a side business as well as a full time job. I eventually would like the new business to be my primary focus. My debt seems to be my biggest obstacle and I am systematically working of ridding myself of it. If I did not have credit card and student loan debt I would be doing well. One thing I have done recently is take all my credit cards to one with a lower interest rate. I am making the same payment as I did before so I am seeing be debt reduce each month. I also did not activate the new card, I just placed in a secure area. This way I am not tempted to use it at all.

  20. Jennifer says:

    Great post. My biggest obstacle is lack of self discipline. I spend a lot of time planning and not enough time doing.

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