5 Ways to Use Visual Aids to Stay Motivated While Paying Off Debt

My  office is one of the most uninspiring places I have ever been.  The off-white paint that was fresh ten years ago does not have a single wall hanging covering any of it, not even in our lobby, which solely consists of three metal chairs in a row.  No plant, no table, no pictures – just those three metal chairs.  I always feel sorry for potential employees who choose a chair in that lonely lobby and have nothing to look at while waiting for their interview but a blank, off-white wall.

Behind the lobby is a small office consisting of two corner desks.  Five children have been brought into the world by the women who occupy these desks, but you would never know.  Not a single photograph of a smiling nine month old, energetic four year old or recent high school graduate sits on their desks, framed with pride.  Hobbies and goals?  Nope.  They either don’t have any or just don’t feel the need to show them off.

Past their office, along a wide hallway of bare walls, sage green tile and fluorescent lighting is five cubicles.  Mine is the second from the front, and the three behind me are empty, unoccupied.  There is no music playing.  Unless podcasts are playing from my phone, it is a place of pure silence.  Not very stimulating.

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I contributed to this lack of inspiration for the majority of my employment.  I felt that if I “moved in” by placing photographs and personal touches in my cubicle, I would be admitting that I was staying here.  As if almost a decade of full-time employment implied that this was just a stepping stone for me.

However, very recently, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I’ll be here for a while, and I’m very accepting of that fact.  This job is a necessary tool for building enough wealth for me to leave.

RELATED: Why I’m Glad I Don’t Love My Job

When accepting this, I decided that in order for me to somehow find some level of happiness and contentment in the place I spend the majority of my life, I needed to make my cubicle my own.  In addition to a small, coral pot of succulents that were a birthday gift from my husband, pictures from my wedding day, handmade gifts from my daughter, wall hangings and a calendar showcasing my favorite vehicle, the vast majority of my cubicle consists of visual aids that keep my eye on my current prize – paying off my home as fast as possible.

RELATED: How We are Paying Off Our Mortgage in Two Years

Visual aids are imperative if you are serious about accomplishing your goal.  Learn how I use them to stay motivated while paying off my home in less than two years!

Numerous quotes that are strategically placed in front of my face include my favorites:

“If you think you’re beaten, you are.  If you think you dare not, you don’t.  If you like to win, but think you can’t, it’s almost certain you won’t.  If you think you will lose, you lost.  It’s all in the state of mind.  You have to be sure of yourself before you ever win a prize.  The man who wins is the man who thinks he can.” – Napoleon Hill
“See you at the top.” – Zig Ziglar
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness.  They wanted her to change back into what she had always been.  But she had wings.” – Dean Jackson
“We found water.  We passed into a more fertile country where were grass and fruit.  We found the trail to Babylon because the soul of a free man looks at life as a series of problems to be solved and solves them, while the soul of a slave whines, ‘What can I do who am but a slave?” – George S. Clason

I also have printouts of Dale Carnegie’s principles from How to Win Friends and Influence People, as well as a sketch titled “15 Things I Learned from James Altucher” that I printed from this website.

Above my monitor, in sight at all times while at work, is my debt free chart that I have used to track my progress since we started paying off our house in September 2016.  Located next to it is a photo of a Ford Mustang with the quote, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  Whether or not Henry Ford actually said this, this photo reminds me to think outside of society’s box while keeping my eye on my next goal – saving cash for a Ford Mustang.

The background of my monitor is the chart I put together to show the timeline of my 15 year mortgage if never paying extra versus the progress that we have made so far.  The amortization schedule we originally printed from our mortgage provider’s website hangs inside the door of my cabinet, along with a list of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps, a variety of quotes, and a simple post-it note showing the amount we currently owe.

RELATED: Debt Payoff Report: Month 10

Several more quotes have been printed and taped throughout my planner, in addition to updates to my mortgage balance.  At home, another printout of the debt free chart is held by magnets on our refrigerator.  

Surrounding myself with these visual aids has helped me tremendously to stay motivated.  In addition to serving as reminders of my goals and the positive mindset I need to keep, I always look forward to updating my charts every two weeks.

Here are my five suggestions, some not so common, for using visual aids to keep yourself motivated to accomplish your goal.

Want to use visual aids to keep yourself motivated?  I have five suggestions.

  1. Place Them Where You Spend Most of Your Time

  • If you work in an office or cubicle as I do, utilize as much of your space as possible by hanging them on your walls, framing them and placing them on your desk, and changing your computer desktop to reflect your goal.
  • If you don’t work outside the home, place visuals on your fridge, in your home office, or use a chalkboard to create a progress tracker.
  • Travel for a living?  Change the background of your phone to a photo that epitomizes your goal.  Clip a photo or a small note showing your current balance to your visor or stick it beside your speedometer.  
  1. Get Creative

  • Design your own chart that represents your debt.  
  • Pick up some cheap vases or mason jars and a bag of glass beads.  Label the vases/jars for each debt you owe, assign a dollar amount per bead, and drop in the appropriate amount of beads for each principal payment.
  • Have kids?  Get them involved.  Create a paper chain that represents the amount you owe by assigning a specific amount to each link and cut a link from the chain each time you pay that much in principal.  You wouldn’t need much more motivation with something like that hanging in your house for all your guests to see.
  1. Print Inspirational Quotes

Make them pretty by using large, bold fonts and tack them to your cubicle wall.  For an extra aesthetic touch, put them in simple, inexpensive frames.

  1. Create Vision Boards

Use a bulletin board, poster board, the wall of your cubicle, however you want to do it.  

  • Print photos that represent goals in all areas of your life – financial, health, personal development, work goals, etc.  
  • Develop timelines for future goals and post them on your board.  
  • Include pictures that represent your “why” to keep yourself focused on the major reason you’re sacrificing and striving for your goal.  
  • If you do not spend most of your time in one place, or if you want to maintain laser focus, use a collage maker app to change the background of your phone or laptop to reflect your vision.
  1. Create a Blog or Social Media Account Dedicated to Your Goal

This suggestion does not follow the norm for visual aids, but creating my blog and social media accounts have kept me accountable and excited about paying off my home more than any other aid.

Starting out, I signed up with the free version of WordPress and soon upgraded to an inexpensive plan that allowed me to customize my domain and monetize my site.  Shortly after my site went live, I created social media accounts using the pen name from my blog.  If you’re interested in setting up a blog of your own, use this link to allow me to earn commission from WordPress at no extra cost to you.

At this point, my personal Instagram has long since been abandoned, and I only check my personal Facebook every couple of days or so.  With a few exceptions, I follow only my heroes and others who are on journeys similar to mine.  Doing this has kept me from exposure to the mundane drama that the friends on my personal accounts share everyday and helps me keep my mindset in the right place.

Follow my journey on Instagram here.

Bonus

For an extra visual aid that can stay with you at all times, check out my Live Like No One Else Wristbands that serve as a constant reminder of the lifestyle you have chosen.

I would love to hear how you use visuals to hold yourself accountable and keep your eye on the prize.  Let me know below!

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2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Use Visual Aids to Stay Motivated While Paying Off Debt

  1. I love this, Thanks for the advice. I am on my debt free journey. I just started on the Dave Ramsey Method and I am Baby Step 1 Save $1,000 .This is a though journey and I am always looking for motivation. I will definitely be implementing some of these ideas. Thanks

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