Let me tell you a little bit about penguins, because they’re a great analogy for what it takes to get out of debt.
See these penguins here? They’re chinstrap penguins, and clumsy on land just like other types of penguins. I’m going to come back to them in a sec.
In general, penguins are busy little things on land. They walk here and there, trying to find the perfect pebble or rock to build a nest with. They bray loudly like a donkey, flap their flippers, and go to check out things they’re curious about. But mostly, they’re pretty purposeful.
And when they walk, they fall. Over and over and over again.
Walking like a penguin
A typical penguin walk goes like this: waddle waddle fall, get up, waddle waddle fall. Stand still for a bit. Waddle waddle fall. Try to get up again. Maybe fall right down again and slide a bit on the ice. You get the picture.
Even when they’re getting ready to jump in the water — their natural element — they sometimes slip and fall in instead, ass over teakettle, as they peer over the edge of the ice to look for predators.
But no matter what, they keep going. I never saw a penguin give up while I was in Antarctica. Not once. And it’s no exaggeration to say we saw many thousands of penguins. (I saved up and went to Antarctica after we got completely out of debt.)
They’re determined little birds
They’ve got something in mind, and they keep at it until they get there, despite constant falls in the snow, ice, and rocks.
They don’t give up. They don’t decide they weren’t built for walking on land. They don’t whine that their flippers are only meant for swimming and not flying. They don’t seem annoyed that it’s hard to hold onto a rock with only a little beak. They just keep going until they reach their goal.
Despite setbacks, and despite their circumstances.
Climbing the mountain
Now let’s go back to those chinstraps. They’ve built their nest in the colony that’s high on the cliffs of Orne Island — about 150 meters up in the saddle of the mountain.
Here’s what the rest of the view from up there looked like.
Those penguins have an awesome view, don’t they? And see how tiny our ship looks in the distance?
Every day one of the penguins goes down that mountain and into the water to fish, and then waddles its way back up. Falling and getting back up again, for as long as it takes.
I made that hike, and let me tell you it wasn’t easy. I landed on my butt in the knee-deep snow more times than I care to remember, and slid several times on the ice and loose rocks. Trust me, my legs are much more suited to hiking than a little penguin’s are.
But boy was it worth the view.
And that’s exactly what getting out of debt is like. You stop borrowing, keep going toward your goal, until one day you get there. You’ve climbed a mountain of debt and made it to the top. And it’s awesome.
So let those penguins be your inspiration. Keep going — despite the obstacles — and chip away at your debt mountain until it’s gone. Then enjoy living with that beautiful debt-free view from here on out.