Sometimes the best methods for achieving your goals aren't the most obvious. In helping countless people get out of debt over the years, Dave Ramsey has picked up some tricks for getting people past that finish line. His "snowball plan" may seem a bit counterintuitive, but it's worked for many people before, and it can work for you now.
Paying Off Debt with the Debt Snowball Plan
The basic idea is this: achieve your goals by taking the path of greatest momentum. The most practical approach to paying off your debt is to pick the loan with the highest interest rate and pay that off first, but that's not what Dave recommends.
If that loan is huge and starts to feel like an insurmountable obstacle, you're more likely to give up. To keep the momentum going, pick the smallest loan and pay that off first. It's a goal that's easy to accomplish, gives you an early win, and fuels your incentive to keep going and tackle that next loan, building your “debt snowball.”
You might be thinking, "How does this help me? My New Year's resolution doesn't have anything to do with debt, it's about losing weight!" You can apply the snowball method to any goal. To prove it, below I’ll explain how you can use it to achieve two other common goals.
Using Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Plan To Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions
Example 1.) Losing Weight
Losing weight is a very general goal. There are so many factors involved in weight gain and health it can be hard to know where to start. That's where we bring in the snowball plan. Make out a list of things you can do to work towards losing weight. Now rank them in order with the most difficult at the bottom.
Here's an example list, but of course yours can be different!
- Switch out processed snacks for fruits and veggies
- Stop drinking soda
- Pack a healthy lunch 3 times a week
- Cook healthy dinners 3 nights a week
- Work out 3 times a week
- Upgrade to packing your lunch 5 days a week
- Upgrade to working out 5 times a week
As we recommended in our last post on keeping your New Year's resolutions, you should start small. Pick the easiest item on the list, and focus on that for the first month. Once you feel you've got a good handle on it, move to the next item on the list. Every success you have will make you feel that much more prepared and capable of achieving the next step.
Example 2.) Decluttering Your Home
When you think of all the tasks involved in getting your home clean, it can seem daunting. Even if you don't mind doing dishes or sweeping, you might hate mopping or scrubbing the toilet. We've all got our cleaning pet peeves (mine's mopping, ugh!).
The same principle applies here. Instead of getting stuck at the thought of how big of a job cleaning the house is, pick one task you don't mind to knock out first. Once you get those dishes done, taking a few more minutes to scrub the kitchen counters doesn't seem so bad.
The progression from there to scrubbing the bathroom counters, sweeping the house, and right on up to mopping and everything in between starts to feel a little easier after each task you accomplish.
In all of these examples, by taking it one step at a time and taking a moment to appreciate your success at each level of the process, the full task starts the feel a lot less daunting.