Know Thyself: Do You

Lately, I’ve had a total breakthrough in achieving my goals. It has been a breakthrough for me to come to the realization (and admit) that I’m an “a lot at one time” kind of person and get stressed out about committing to do something every day. Granted, it’s only been a few weeks since I changed my tactics on my goals to reflect this realization, but so far things are going well. This all goes back to the most important thing you can do for yourself and your finances: know thyself. There are hundreds, probably thousands of personal finance blogs available, and it’s fabulous for your finances to surround yourself with good influences that preach the messages of avoiding debt, saving more, and finding financial freedom and independence. But the reason why there are so many is because there is no one-size-fits all approach to finances.

Do you want to know the absolute best way for you to get out of debt and save more money? The answer: The one you will actually do. 

“Do you.” If there’s one piece of advice I could give you for life, it would be this. Just do you. But that comes with a disclaimer. Sometimes you are dumb. And then you have to figure out how to “do the best you” because the real you might spend all your money without saving or spend every night watching movies and eating cake (that one might be the real me). So the ultimate goal is to figure out what you want to accomplish and then figure out your own way to do it. One that will work for you. This applies in any area of life:

  • In Finances: The best way to get me motivated about saving money is to give me a big chunk of it. I get the most exhilarating, satisfying feeling of VICTORY as I throw giant chunks of cash at a goal. It motivates me to save more on a smaller level until the next windfall occurs. I also know that I have a weakness for Target clearance. So I try to avoid going there unless there’s a specific need. What motivates you to save? What are your spending temptations?
  • In Health: My health goal is very general: I want to feel good and strong. My pet peeve is when everyone bases their health goals strictly on weight. I weigh the exact same amount as I did walking out of the hospital with my youngest son with baby weight and no muscle. I assure you that I’m much stronger now and feel a lot better. I know when I feel strong. And I work toward that. I’ve said before that I can’t commit to exercising daily. Knowing that, I schedule times to exercise at the beginning of each week based on what my calendar looks like for the week. I also have a weakness for all baked goods. And laziness. I indulge in these things in moderation and only as a reward for making better choices most of the time. I also know that I hate running. I get so angry while I’m running. So I choose not to do that. Instead, I entertain the neighbors with some in-home Zumba. 🙂
  • Productivity: I work part-time from home. I have no set schedule and my work hours depend on the amount of projects I receive. I have to schedule big chunks of time to work (usually early in the morning before the kids wake up) because I am not good and jumping in and working a little at a time. I also know that by Thursday, I’m ready for the weekend. Because I don’t have to show up to any office on Friday, I have to hold myself accountable for productivity. I’ve learned that if I give myself some veg time on Thursday night (a mini weekend evening indulgence), then I can actually be productive on Friday (“one more day! I can do this!”). When it comes to housework, I tried following the steps of the Flylady – the Queen of all things clean, but she said I had to clean the toilets and the counters in my bathroom every single day. I think it happened for a full four days and then I stopped cleaning completely because I can’t commit to doing something every day. Now, I have chores scheduled (laundry on Monday, bathroom on Tuesday, everything else on Friday) and do it in big chunks. It works out great (don’t come over on Thursday). When are you the most productive? Do you need breaks after small amounts of work or do you need big chunks of time?
  • In Parenting: If you haven’t noticed, Mommy Wars are a thing. There is a tremendous amount of guilt that comes with being a parent. Someone is always seemingly doing it better than you. And scrolling through Pinterest can add to the guilt. I am not oozing with curriculum for my children, making their lunches into elaborate zoo scenes, or making a daily craft with them after school. I’m the mom that would rather play a board game, talk about questions, and plan trips with them. Because I’m aware of this, I can utilize Pinterest for the tool that it is. I’m great at scrolling through quickly saying “ridiculous. not going to happen. nope” and only saving pins where some awesome parent somewhere has put an elaborate something together that I can just print off and do with my children. No guilt. You know the greatest part? My kids don’t care that I printed it off and did no prep work. They really just want me to do something cool with them because no other mom can replace me–their mom.

Learning about what works for me has been the single most important step in maximizing my potential. If you don’t know your strengths or weaknesses, you won’t know how to maximize one and minimize the other. Know thyself. And then do the best you!

do you


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  1. Know thyself – absolutely!! 🙂 You bring up excellent points on scrolling through Pinterest and not feeling piles of guilt (through parenting, dress, art, photography, home decor, and everything in between). The comparison effect is strong, but I feel like you can truly combat it if you know thyself. Your strengths will not match up to those that are excelling in other areas of life than you, your weaknesses will vary from those faces you see scrolling across the screen or encounter in life. The more ownership you take of how you know yourself, the more you can balance everything! Also – the fact that you can pinpoint your weaknesses allows for you to have those slip ups and not feel completely downtrodden. Just “Do you,” I love it!

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s so easy to say “I’m the worst______ ever” just because we see someone else that has successfully figured it out and we haven’t yet. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ANYTHING. We’re wired differently. My sister can’t relax if the house isn’t spotless. That is NOT how I am! 🙂 So instead of trying to do what works for her, I do what works for me… and amazingly, it works!

  2. This is so true. I know what works best for me and I attach my goals that way. What I need to work on is realizing not everyone is the same and what works great for me, might not work great for friends, family, or readers. Everyone needs to find their own path to succeed at their goals.

    • MaggieBanks

      This is why there are so many of us bloggers around. We each have something different to say because we’re each different. And that’s what’s great. Pretending to be someone else will not end in success.

  3. Following others is how I got into this mess. I was a “sheep” for so long, spending money on “normal” things and focusing on a good career. I focused on what others told me I should want, instead of finding out what was really important to me. Now, we’re deep in debt and I’m stuck working in a demanding occupation that no longer holds any interest to me. While I’m incredibly thankful of my ability to finally know myself, it’s been a long time coming.

    • MaggieBanks

      This is a great testimonial. Thank you for your heartfelt comment. It is so true that we pretend we like or are good at what we “should be” and when we are real with ourselves, we realize we’ve gotten ourselves into a big mess.

  4. Kim from Philadelphia

    Hi Maggie!
    I found your blog via The Frugalwoods. I’ve been reading (and enjoying) for several weeks!
    Just wanted to say hello!

    • MaggieBanks

      Kim – I am so glad that you decided to say “hello!” It is so great to meet you! I love to meet new friends and you have just made my week! Happy Friday, Kim!

  5. This is the best advice, and such a good reminder even for those of us who know it. (Cough, cough.) Despite the fact that my job is all about managing a million things at once, I get overwhelmed more easily than I should and tend to want to curl up into a ball and whimper. So for me, the key is staying organized, which makes the to do list seem more manageable. And then trying to go where my motivation leads me. Sometimes I feel inspired to do the laundry, other times to write for the blog. I wish I was always motivated to do exactly what needs to be done, but trying to work with my own tendencies has made things a lot less frustrating!

    • MaggieBanks

      I know it as well, but I’m still learning what works for me in every area. It’s good to be honest about what my default behavior is so I know what I’m working with!

  6. I absolutely love reading posts like this. Anything relating to personalities and delving into the “why we do what we do” questions fascinate me. A lot like understanding your finances, understanding yourself can clear up many future questions and doubts just by knowing what to expect from yourself in certain situations. I, too, have a weakness for Target clearance and choose to avoid department stores altogether unless we absolutely need something. No temptation = no unexpected shopping expenses in our monthly budget.

    The one area that I’m really BAD at knowing myself is the health area. Although I love how I feel AFTER I work out, and I know that I SHOULD work out, I can never quite get myself to just do it. I find myself choosing something “more important” to do or choosing to indulge in the laziness or baked goods instead 😉 It doesn’t matter if I’ve set specific days or even a time of day when I should be available to work out, something always seems to “come up.” Any advice?

    • MaggieBanks

      I’ve figured out what works for me: – I’ve accidentally quit so many things. That being said, I’m still not the best at everything… but I am really into being able to tick the boxes now… I want to say in my Friday posts that I achieved all the things I said I would. (And I still indulge in the laziness and baked goods… but I try to do the workout first thing in the morning.) Things always come up. Now I think “is this a legitimate excuse?” If it’s something I feel great about saying that it trumps working out (ie: kids sick, traveling, snow day, etc) then I am able to skip it guilt free. But if it’s a lame excuse and even I know it… I’m motivated to just do it. Good luck. 🙂

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