Gazelle intensity vacations to avoid burnout

By glblguy


There has been a great deal of buzz amoungst various personal finance bloggers lately around the concept of Gazelle Intense, myself included. As a result, I’ve found myself musing on it a bit lately: What it means exactly, would I be considered gazelle intense, and frankly wondering if those that claim to be gazelle intense truly are. There are a number of factors that I think play into how gazelle intense you can be: Whether you have children and how many you have, how much “spare” cash you have available to snowflake against your debt, your income level, and I am sure many other factors. Another factor to consider is at what point are you maybe hurting yourself or others in the process.

Gazelle Intense at the YMCA

My wife and I signed up for the YMCA at the beginning of the year and we’ve been working out about 2-3 times per week since we joined. We’ve also been on a fairly strict diet. I’ve already lost 8 pounds and already feel like I have more energy. We’ve been pretty gazelle intense with our dieting and exercise. Almost every Friday night, my wife and I got out for dinner for “date night”. Nothing fancy or extra special, just a way to get out together…just the two of us. During our most recent “date”, we were trying to decide what to eat. If you’ve ever been on a strict diet, you’ll know that it’s a bit of a challenge to find something even remotely healthy at most restaurants. So we decided it would be alright to skip our diet for the evening and just enjoy the food and our time together. After all, I’ve read that unless you reward yourself, sticking to a diet is near impossible.

Gazelle Intense Vacations

In dawned on me later that this is the way I feel about being gazelle intense. We go through periods where are very much gazelle intense, focusing every dollar we can on our debt. Other times, we may enjoy a family night out, or splurge a little over the weekend. Then we return once again to being purely gazelle intense. I hear these stories on the Dave Ramsey show about people being gazelle intense for 2 or 3 years, and I always if they rewarded themselves or maybe took “gazelle intense vacations”. Don’t get me wrong, if someone can do this for 2-3 years, or even 6-months, I have the utmost admiration for them. I just don’t think it would work for me. I like to reward myself in small ways for accomplishments. Doing so motivates me and helps me to look forward to the next goal. Honestly, not doing so would quickly lead me to gazelle intensity burnout.

You see this type of burnout happens frequently. This is particularly evident after new years where people declare all of those wonderful goals, resolutions and ambitions, but they seldom follow through to keep up the focus. They become burned out and grow tired of the sacrifice. Instead, set yourself up smaller goals with rewards. Be gazelle intense until you reach that goal, reward yourself, then head for the next goal. Again, don’t go do something crazy like buy a new car or go on a cruise. Maybe just a dinner out or a quiet weekend at the beach instead. Just do something simple, low cost, and that you enjoy.

Here are some other recent articles you can read on the subject of gazelle intensity:

Are you gazelle intense? If so, how intense are you? Do you reward yourself? What are your thoughts on this topic? Add a comment!

18 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Gazelle intensity vacations to avoid burnout”

  1. paidtwice Says:



  2. Lynnae @ Says:

    I think I’ve been a little gazelle intense about slacking lately. Why oh why did you have to pick on me about my 2008 goals? I have a sinking feeling it’s going to be bad news all around.

    I think I need to refocus my gazelle intensity. February…here I come!

  3. Dan Says:

    Being in the financial field, I forecast my budget about 3 years in advance and my net worth about 40 years. It comes down to how much you want. If I go ultra gazelle for 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, how much will it matter? Will all of the obsession over every nickel and dime make that much of a difference in 30 years?

    Let me put it this way, I read an article about how 0.5% annual fees can ruin your retirement, adding up to something like $40,000 over 30 or 40 years. A good point, and I’m not defending load mutual funds, but the article missed the real point of compound interest. The $40,000 would represent only a small fraction of your future net worth! While right now $40K sounds like a lot of dough, when you have $2,000,000 in retirement, no debt, and all the cash you need it suddenly isn’t that much money.

    So what does this have to do with the Gazelle mentality? Simply put, if you can master the “easy” stuff, in the long run you’ll be almost as well off as someone who went totally committed to the way of the Gazelle. Follow these simple rules:

    1) Live below your means – This is the only real rule. Once you can do this successfully, you can then:
    2) Have an emergency fund
    3) First use the excess cash to pay off your debt
    4) Then use the extra to fully fund your 401K

    If you do this, then in the long run your net worth will be almost as great as a total fanatic. If you don’t believe me, I’ll put together a spreadsheet which will demonstrate this. I’ve run it many different ways, and always come up with the same conclusion.

    As Leo Durocher once said, “Never save a pitcher for tomorrow. It may rain tomorrow.” Who is to say you’ll be around to enjoy the fruits of your continual sacrifice? Live a little while you save.

  4. Debt Free Revolution Says:

    As long as these breaks are budgeted for, Dave Ramsey has said many times it’s perfectly okay! If you want ot go out for a dinner with your spouse to celebrate another debt being paid off, or another goal/milestone reached…put it in the budget. He insists he doesn’t advocate “living in a cave, collecting lint, and only coming out on Triple-Coupon Thursday.”

  5. James Says:

    I like this post. I think I will set a personal goal to keep up the intesity. I will reward myself after every $2000 reduction to my credit card. Mabye a diner out or buy a book or something small that I want.

  6. Nathaniel Scott Says:

    i’m pretty new to Dave Ramsey and heard about gazelle intensity for the first time today when a mother called in afraid she wasn’t going to be like a gazelle if she stayed home with the kids instead of working outside the home. of course she got some good advice.

    i would agree though, going too hard for too long, i would burn out. rewards, small ones, definitely help along the way

  7. [email protected] Says:

    Great tips Glblguy, I need to develop a little more intensity. My wife would probably disagree, though :)

    I’m looking “intensely” forward to paying off that last bill.

  8. Early Retirement Extreme Says:

    I’m not a big fan of small goals. If I set small goals they tend to stay small and I never get a taste of what I’m working towards before I get frustrated about getting nowhere and consequently give up. “Force of nature” is my mantra when I work towards a goal. It’s all or nothing.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @ERE – I’m not advocating small goals, I’m advocating large goals with milestones and rewards at each milestones. I used to do custom software development and when we bid on projects, we would always set milestones where the client would pay us some portion of the overall cost. The overall goal was to deliver the software and get paid the full amount, but we would set smaller goals or milestones to show our progress for getting there, and to receive a small reward to keep us motivated.

    I mean certainly do what works all, and this isn’t a one size fits all, just another way of maybe keeping you motivated.

  10. JvW Says:

    Great post! I too have been feeling the burnout, and I like your ideas to keep on track. I try to remember that this is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix, and we’re not going to abstain from vacations and dinners out for the rest of our lives.

    I love your site & just added you to my google reader!

  11. Lisa Spinelli Says:

    I think burnout can be a very real thing in any endeavor you persue with passion. How to avoid it? Maybe you can’t sometimes. Maybe you just take a little vacation, and then go back to it. Ten steps forward, one step back, sort of thing.
    My spouse would definitely say I am passionate about our finances. My response, of course is, in my best gazelle intense voice, ” how can we not be!?!? This is our future we’re talking about!”
    My spouse would definitely also say that I am the queen of burnout on things other than our finances (such as diet and exercising!).

    The reality is, I like to practice the “80/20” rule. That means if I do it 80% of the time, I feel good about it, and try not to do too much harm when I am practicing the other 20%.

    That’s all for now! Anyone else do the 80/20?

  12. glblguy Says:

    @JvW – Thanks, glad you like the site and appreciate you adding me to your reader!

    @Lisa – Thanks for the comment. I like your 80/20 philosophy.

  13. In Debt Says:

    I’m currently in the middle of the longest piece of “gazelle intense” focus on finances that I’ve ever had to deal with. I think that I need an occasional break from it, though, even if its something very little. Fortunately, Young and I have a bit of a break planned for soon.

  14. Frugal Dollar Says:

    We are passing through the end of gazelle burnout- we’ve been at it for a year solid now. I think you are so right about giving yourself milestones. We are doing a big web project for extra money that will be complete in a couple of months. I think with your idea we might spend a small percentage of the money on fun stuff- that way we don’t feel completely deprived and just give up. Great thoughts! Thanks for the article!