The #1 Trait to Have for Better Finances

Womans finger on stack of coins
Womans finger on stack of coins

Year's end is a big time for interviews (at least it always is for me), and there are always the "standard questions" I know how to answer off the top of my head. Sometimes it's the usual fare about money, my favorite money tips, why I wanted to start a finance blog, etc. But there's one particular question that's come up frequently in handful of interviews over the last few months that I found really interesting.

"What was the biggest challenge you faced when you first started blogging?"

Don't worry, this article isn't about blogging; rather it's about overcoming challenges and how critical one specific personality trait is to managing your life, career, and finances. I've been fascinated by this idea for weeks and wanted to spend the last 600 words of the year tying all my thoughts together in a nice little bow for you to percolate on as you plan and prepare your life and finances for 2016.

"What was the biggest challenge you faced when you first started blogging?"

The biggest? Finding the strength/courage/motivation to keep going when things weren't exactly going well.  Sure, you can look and see slick graphics, corporate sponsorships, coaching services and that I now work for myself full time, but I like to always remind folks and clients that these things have come after three and a half years of hard work.

3.5 years ago it was just me, a computer, my terrible grammar and a handful of new friends I'd made on Twitter.

I can't tell you how many days it felt like I was spinning my wheels, trying to say something but unsure of my voice, if I was explaining my sentiments correctly, frustrated if anyone cared or would come back to read. More than that, I struggled for several years with combatting burnout; writing eight hours at my day job and then coming home to blog and side hustle was really, really tough and took a lot of the joy out of it for me a lot of the time.

There were definitely days and weeks when I seriously entertained taking a break or giving up entirely.

Which is part of my pattern, or former pattern at least. In my youth I jumped from ballet to softball to cheerleading to theater, only minimally applying myself and slacking off when things didn't go my way, or as was usually the case, when I lost interest. I've never been the kid that "stuck" with anything.

Trust me, with a background like that, no one was more surprised than I when somehow, someway with this blog I was able to keep going and commit to my vision even when others didn't see it; even when I had doubts about if I could succeed.

On Being Tenacious With Your Finances

In talking about tenacity with my blog during these interviews,  it got me thinking about how important it is to be steadfast when it comes to your personal finances and financial goals. My own life changed in astounding ways when I made a commitment to bettering my finances.

Don't get me wrong, there are so many personality traits that can make for personal finance success: skepticism, shrewdness, gratitude, being responsible, a certain tolerance for risk, frugality, generosity etc. etc.

I'm sure many will argue with me as to which is the most important.

But from where I'm standing, I think the #1 most important trait for healthy finances is tenacity. 

Tenacity: holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold. (That's the definition.) A better word for tenacity is persistence.

Think about what you want to achieve and what you have achieved so far.

Did any of it happen overnight?

Say you want to save up for a house, you have to commit for over a year to setting aside money for that goal. It takes persistence, and it's harder than it looks. Especially if you have several wants competing for your attention at the same time.

Another example: having tenacity can play well when you're investing in the stock market; often investors make the most money holding onto stocks or positions for the long term. The best investors don't change up their strategy every time the market turns. Even for novice investors, it takes a certain amount of tenacity to commit to saving for retirement. It's hard enough to save for short term goals, let alone for  a future so far down the road you can barely envision or articulate what it looks like.

Nothing in life: money, relationships, career, ever fully blossoms without day-after-day commitment and diligence. Sure, you may have been born a money miser or stock market whiz, but without tenacity you're likely to accomplish little. That's why I think it's the most important character trait for wealth building (and being an all around bad ass.)

And the best part about tenacity? You don't have to be born with it. You can practice and get better at it over time.

A New Purpose for 2016

If you don't commit to building wealth or at least managing your money well, you'll never break the paycheck to paycheck cycle and start experiencing things beyond day-to-day existence.

Maybe you're not the most frugal person, maybe you don't like risk. But you can set your financial goals for 2016 and practice tenacity day in and day out. Instead of committing to a goal, flip your perspective and commit to seeing the goal through. 

Start small so you don't get overwhelmed.

And then show up every, single, freaking day until it's done.