In the world of personal finance, “Pay yourself first,” is a popular mantra. It means that before you take a penny out of your paycheck for any other expenses, you put a little money into your savings. It’s the single most important element for cultivating financial stability. But I’ve found that this principle also applies to all the other areas of my life, especially fitness.
In 2013, for an entire year, I exercised every single day. Not every workout was vigorous or long, but every workout happened, and that was the point. The only way I was able to stick with that crazy goal was by making my workout a non-negotiable priority. It wasn’t the most important thing in my life, of course, but it was something that I simply wouldn’t compromise on. Often, I exercised first thing in the morning, to get it out of the way. But sometimes I squeezed in my workout dangerously close to midnight, just so that I could keep the streak going. I often bargained with myself and made up “rules” in order to coax myself into it: “No wine until after your workout,” for example.
At the end of that year, I was amazed by the fact that I’d done it, but also by how easy it had become. By making exercise a top priority, I’d quickly formed a habit that became almost impossible for me to break. It also made me realize just how untrue many of my previous excuses for missing workouts had been. Lack of time, illness, vacation – these barriers were all easily overcome once I’d decided this was something I was going to do, no matter what.
Lately, I’ve been procrastinating a lot, allowing my attention to be diverted to things that I know are not important to me, or less important than some others. Every time I catch myself starting to say, “Yeah, but I have to…” I remember what I learned from that year, from achieving that monumental goal, and I know that I am just lying to myself.
If you want health and fitness to be a bigger priority in your life, or if there’s a passion you’ve been ignoring, or a skill you keep meaning to learn but can never seem to get around to, I have news for you – you can. You simply need to apply the fundamental rule of personal finance and pay yourself first. You’ll reap huge dividends if you do, I promise!