There is a good, common practice when it comes to debt elimination called The Debt Snowball. The goal of The Debt Snowball is to pay off all your credit card and consumer debt as quickly as possible. In some cases this could take several months if not several years, and so it can be easy to lose momentum along the process.
Many people think they should try to pay off the credit cards which have the highest interest rate first. But there is a better way.
To do The Debt Snowball, you put your credit cards in order of balance: with the card holding the smallest balance first and the one with the highest balance last. Then, while still paying the monthly minimum payment on each card, take all extra money you can and pay off that first card (the one with the smallest balance) as fast as possible.
Congratulations! You’ve now eliminated one of the cards you owe money on. Feels great, doesn’t it?
Now, take the money you were using to pay off that card and roll it over to the next card until that one is paid off.
As you can see, the momentum builds as you pay off each card. You feel good about the small victories, and you feel less stress as you have less cards you owe money on.
This method of The Debt Snowball is a great picture for how we can rebuild our personal integrity in terms of being able to follow through with our commitments.
Just like many people think the best way to pay off their credit cards is to start with the ones that have the highest interest rate, so too do we think that if we are going to make a change in our life it should be a big change in a substantial area of life.
We want to eat healthier, begin exercising daily, create a comprehensive financial budget for our household, write a novel, start a business, etc. These are all wonderful goals. But for many people, these goals will never be realized. Not just because they’re prone to distraction and procrastination, but because they have a history of not being able to see their commitments through to the end.
And so, in the same way that the Debt Snowball has you starting with the credit card with the lowest balance, why not regain your personal integrity and develop a habit of commitment by starting small and simple. In the quoted passage above, Peter Daniels suggests placing your shoes in exactly the same spot each night without fail. Do that for a month as a simple way to prove to yourself that you can make and keep a commitment.
Th other problem is that we despise the days of small beginnings.
We think that putting our shoes away in the same spot every night is dumb. And so we don’t do it.
We also despise the marathon. We want to sprint for a week and accomplish all our goals.
It can be frustrating to “start small” with our goals. But making small commitments and keeping them is how we build the momentum we need to be people who keep our commitments. It’s a way to rebuild our personal integrity from something that is small to something that can become an unstoppable force.