Hope for your financial life and beyond

Stay the Course: Success Happens One Step at a Time

Are you unable to stay the course? Many people have difficulty with this when it comes to completing a task. Somewhere along the way, for whatever reason, they give up, never to reach their goal.

stay the course

It happens for big things and small things. For things we would consider hard and even for things that might be easy. Whatever the goal, it’s challenging to push through and achieve the success you are looking for.

I remember years ago when I shared that we had finally paid off our mortgage early and the four big reasons why we did that. Many people on this blog and on my Facebook page were excited for us. Believe me, so were we. It had been a conviction of our to push through that final debt and knock it out in the span of four years.  

But I also remember some of the comments shared with us were from people who were discouraged. They talked about how long it would take them to pay off their mortgage and that they couldn’t imagine ever reaching that goal. To them, our victory was a reminder that their end was nowhere in sight.

If you feel that way, like the end is never going to come, I’d like to encourage you by saying three things:

1. We felt that emotion too.

2. Take one step at a time.

3. The tortoise always wins.

Stay the Course and Have Success

I’m a person of faith. I live my life through the lens and teachings of the Bible. Many verses speak to me on this topic, but one specifically stands out. It’s from Proverbs 21:5 and reads:

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”

The diligent person is one who shows care and focus for their duties. They work carefully, show persistence, and are dedicated to every task. They stick with the plan despite all the challenges  thrown their way.

In short, they stay the course.

The verse uses the word “plenty” to describe the outcome of being diligent. I translate that as having success. Reaching the goal. Acquiring more than enough. Winning.

In contrast, the hasty rush through tasks. They make rash, spur-of-the-moment decisions based on the direction the wind blows. If they have a plan, it doesn’t have the teeth to withstand testing or opposition.

Notice that the outcome of being hasty is quite different. Whereas the diligent prosper, the hasty do not. Poverty is waiting at their door.

In other words, hastiness leads to failure. Falling short. Living without. Losing. I don’t think that’s the place any of us what to be.

So how do you stay the course? Methodically.

Related Content: Want to Chase Your Dreams? This is the Right Way to Win Big

Building Blocks

Goals aren’t reached by being hasty. We didn’t pay off our mortgage that way. We took slow, methodical steps, each one building on the other.

Our journey went something like this:

  1. After all our debt was gone, we bulked up our emergency fund so that we had 3-6 months of expenses in our bank savings account.
  2. When that was fully funded, we began investing more for retirement.
  3. Next in line was building the kid’s college funds.
  4. Finally, with any extra money we could find from our monthly income sources, we plunked away at the mortgage, little by little.

Those last three steps did happen concurrently. We worked on them at the same time. However, we didn’t begin the next one until the foundation had been set and the ball rolling from the step before.

My point is that we didn’t start our financial journey at paying off the mortgage. There were things that needed to be done before that. Laying the groundwork with the more fundamental steps led to quicker progress on the bigger goal.

The payoff also didn’t happen overnight. We had to be patient. And that is always hard when you want something badly. But again, we knew there was no shortcut. We had to stick with our plan and slog through it.

Related Content: Count the Cost: The Secret Step to Success at Anything

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

It may be a long time before your financial dreams will be realized. My challenge today is not to get discouraged and stay the course. Making hasty, rash decisions based on your emotions will not help you reach the destination quicker. More than likely, those will lead to a setback that only prolongs the journey.

So it really is one step at a time. Slow and steady wins the race. Focus, be determined and stay the course on whatever goal it is you have.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: How do you keep from becoming discouraged about your financial journey? Have you ever had the urge to take a shortcut to reach a goal? Are you content to progress slowly and stay the course, waiting to meet certain financial goals? Or do you want it all to happen now?

Image by Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  2. Good points! I think we all get discouraged sometimes. It’s also amazing sometimes to look at how much you have already accomplished.

    • “…how much you have already accomplished.” I know…sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself of where I’ve come from.

  3. Slow and steady definitely wins the race. Small changes that are done diligently are better then big changes that only happen sporadically. Great job you guys!

    • There is a place though for big changes to happen provided they are part of a well thought out plan. The key like you said is that they are not happening sporadically.

  4. I have the urge to take shortcuts to reach my financial goals all the time. Right up to about 2008 I was doing great. My long term financial structures were all in order and I was going to retire comfortably. I guess you know what happened. I don’t believe that I will have reach that level of financial comfort again. So I wish for shortcuts all the time. But really, there are no shortcuts. If it looks like a shortcut, it isn’t, its a dirt track down the side of a cliff leading to a drop into the abyss 2000 feet below. I’m staying he course because it is really all one can do.

    • “…its a dirt track down the side of a cliff leading to a drop into the abyss 2000 feet below.” Boy that’s a great picture Brad on the effects of taking a shortcut. I don’t know about your financial situation but I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility you could financially recover from your loss. Staying the course over the long haul is your best bet.

  5. It takes time, if you want to be able to live like a normal person, and still get ahead. As a person who is getting ready to “ride off into the sunset” from my ‘real’ job, I can say it wasn’t fast, nor easy.

    Sure, if I wanted to live on 14K a year, no problem. But I like hot showers, a truck, and being able to do what I want.

    • I know many people who cut, cut, cut and live like a pauper to get rid of the debt. I think that’s an option but one you have to be 100% committed to. I’m like you…I’d rather live a little along the way.

  6. Reminds me of the question: how do you eat an elephant? 🙂 We do live in an age of instant gratification, so it’s sometimes hard to be patient and just put our heads down and be persistent, but sometimes it’s the only way…and occasionally life with thrown you an good curveball like some kind of financial windfall, but you can’t rely on it.

  7. I don’t necessarily feel this in relationship to debt as I have no mortgage nor do I have consumer debt. However, I often feel this way with my income. I find it hard to summon the patience and keep going even when I feel like I’m not seeing results as fast as I’d like.

    • Thanks for pointing that out Stefanie. This concept is definitely applicable to other areas of money (and life) besides debt.

  8. I am not always the most patient person, so sometimes I struggle with this but I do agree that slow and steady wins the race, even though we’d all love it if we could put the pedal to metal sometimes. 🙂 It is so easy to get discouraged. I see that every day. People see what they have to “fix” and they get overwhelmed. It does look like a lot but breaking it down into small pieces and putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there. Have a great weekend, Brian!

    • I get overwhelmed when there is a lot to fix/do. I lock up and don’t know where to start. In those instances, I try to break it down piece by piece and see which task will provide the most benefit to me knocking it off.

  9. Yeah, the bigger picture is often hard to see. There are times when I do our monthly net worth and think that we’re barely making progress, but then when I step back and look where we were a year or three years ago, and the difference today, I realize that we are moving toward our goal in a meaningful way. Sometimes, perspective is everything.

  10. I need to work on my patience, so I usually do want everything to happen now! I know that it’s for the best that it doesn’t. We learn a lot of valuable lessons along the way. If everything fell into place, it would be quite anti-climatic. I really want our student loans gone, as we both feel like we can’t progress to the next stage in our lives with them. However, we’ve both learned we hate debt and never want to take it on again (unless for a car or house). If we had graduated debt free, who knows if we would have learned that lesson.

  11. I definitely – and almost naturally as a human – want everything to ‘happen right now.’ I want to be out of debt, I want investment rental properties and dividend stocks providing me income, etc. and I want it all now! I think sometimes reading about other people’s success helps keep me in check. Nothing happens overnight and all you can really do is take one step at a time.

    • I fight against the tendency to have it all now too DC. That’s why I write about it…to keep my mind in check.

      • OK, I have a question for you. When you were sooooooooooooooo close to paying off that mortgage, how did you keep your “slow and steady” pace? I’m getting there and the closer I get the less patient I am. I swear I’d have an estate sale just to get those last few thousand $ to get rid of that mortgage.

        • “…have an estate sale…” I’d be OK with that. I wouldn’t sell the whole estate but maybe some things you could part with. Finding ways to raise extra cash to pay off the mortgage doesn’t invalidate the “slow and steady” philosophy. For the last bit of our mortgage, we took some profits from our rentals to pay that off. Slow and steady is simply the mindset I want vs. the have-it-all-now mindset.


  1. […] Brian at Luke1428 posted Stay the Course: Our Success Happened One Step at a Time. A very encouraging post about taking it slow and steady and reaching your goals in due […]

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