How to repay graduate debt and still enjoy your life
“If I’ve got graduate or other debt hanging around my neck, how do I form a compelling vision, where do I begin?
“I’m £50k in debt, I have a job, so how do I start the process? Should I just focus on clearing the debt first for my vision? Where should I draw the lines?”
Your compelling vision is how you want to spend the rest of your life
Successfully paying off debt starts with a plan, and that plan should include your compelling vision – your hopes for the future.
Your compelling vision should reach past simply paying off graduate debt and drive forwards to your future. It should be based on things that you are in control of, as opposed to others being controlling them.
Your compelling vision may end up something like:
“I want to wake up feeling happy and healthy, in a loving relationship, knowing the decisions I make are moving my family forward in a healthy and prosperous way. I’m proud of the career I’ve created, and happy with the balance between my family time and my career.”
Once you’ve considered what yours looks like, think about the debt you have now as simply a rock in the way of reaching that vision. This way, you’re already setting a new perspective on it.
Next, think about stepping stones along the way to get there. Set yourself 10-year, five-year and three-year goals of what you want to accomplish and achieve, for yourself and your family.
Keep them fairly general; you only need to get specific when it comes to your 12-month goals, which you make precise and measurable. Typically, those are in terms of units – time, money and so on e.g. I’ll save/earn/lose X amount of something. Again, make sure it’s something you can control, not something that’s out of your control.
After you have your one-year goals, break them down further in order to succeed – it’s still too long a period. Most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by Easter or before! Set 90-day check-ins to keep you on the right track to achieving your 12-month goals.
And then every day, consider mini-goals that will move you towards your next 90-day check-in. You want to always feel like you’re moving towards something.
For me, every morning I write down three actions for the day. This sets me up for the direction of the day, I decide on purpose what I will achieve in the next 24 hours, not my environment. I am living intentionally and on purpose.
Next, I review my actions from the previous day, I want to write down three successes that I had, what I did well, however small! Your life is a journey, we all like rewards and positive feedback, it gives us a dopamine boost. You need to let yourself know how amazing you are and how well you are doing – do it, three successes each day.
Finally each morning, I want you to write three things in your life which you are grateful for, this way you won’t need to wait to be living your dream life, you will be reminded you have a dream life every day.
Why do I believe in these routines so strongly? I believe we attract what we think of most of the time. Have you ever had a conversation or thought about someone only to be reminded of them by a message or something that happened? Or have you ever been to a car dealership to look at a new car and when you left, you saw this car multiple times?
This is called the reticular activating system of the brain, it serves as the filter between your conscious and subconscious. We can’t possibly notice every tiny detail around us, or we would go crazy! However, if every day you’re looking at your goals, they’re foremost in your brain. It doesn’t take long, just 15 minutes or so in the morning, and it makes such a difference.
Remember, doing what you’ve always done will achieve the same results you always have, so if you’re reading this then try it – what’s the worst that can happen?