It may be cliché to write a New Year’s Resolution blog in the waning days of the decade, but that’s exactly what I intend to do. The reason is simple. Every year we set resolutions in the sincere hope of this being the year we start (fill in the blank) or quit (fill in the blank) or make sure we always, always (fill in the blank.) It’s like a bad game of Mad Libs that never works out as planned.
None of the five tips below are groundbreaking or wholly original. But, practice makes perfect and if reading these tips just one more time helps any of our readers meet their goals, be it related to their financial well being, emotional or physical health or any other facet of their lives, then it will be time well spent. Worst case scenario, I’ve provided myself with that little extra oomph needed to make my own resolutions really stick in 2010.
So, join me in making these five “pre-resolutions” as we wait for the ball to drop on Friday.
1. I Resolve to Make no More Than One or Two Resolutions
All too often when we set goals for the upcoming year, there is a tendency to get motivated. Really motivated. All of the sudden, instead of making a few measured adjustments to our day, there is a 20 item list of ways to completely revolutionize who we are as a person. This is entirely too much to take on at one time, especially under the pressure of a New Year’s resolution. Resolve, instead, to make one or two reasonable changes to improve whatever area of your life needs a little work.
2. I Resolve to Educate & Evaluate the Changes I Plan to Make
You’re at the dinner table on New Year’s Day. If you’re in Cincinnati, you’re likely eating pork roast and sauerkraut. Someone leads off the dinner conversation with going around the table and announcing your resolutions for the New Year. You blurt yours out without really thinking, work on it for a few days or weeks before the motivation is gone. Make this the year you take some time to really sit down and evaluate your goals. The internet can be a great source of information and support from others who have blazed this trail before you. Learn why you’re making the change you’re making, why it has been so difficult to break habits in the past and evaluate the steps you need to take to be successful this time around.
3. I Resolve to Plan, Plan, Plan
Now that you’ve set a couple reasonable goals and researched how to go about achieving them, put a firm plan into place. Make sure the plan includes actionable goals with results that can be measured over time. Keep a journal or calendar or whatever it is that you feel will best help you stick to the task at hand. Put it on paper, post the plan at home, in your office, wherever you will see it every day and work it into your daily schedule.
4. I Resolve to Ask for Help
It’s not enough to just share your intentions at the dinner table. Ask your family, friends and coworkers to help you with your plan, support you in your efforts, even join in following your plan with you, when appropriate. You’ll feel more accountable for your actions, and having someone join you will make any habit breaking seem much more bearable.
5. I Resolve Not to Manage My Time Wisely
If your resolution will take up more of your already extremely precious time, make fitting it into your schedule part of your plan. We all have 24 hours each day and can choose to prioritize what gets done and what doesn’t however we choose. More importantly, if your resolution actually frees up some time, by giving up an activity, for example, it is just as important to fill up your calendar with something positive in its place in advance. Leaving gaps in your schedule will just remind you that it’s time to return to the bad behavior.
Keep these goals in mind ahead of setting your goals for 2010 and you’ll be just a few steps closer from really embracing the change you wish to see in yourself.
Have a very safe and Happy New Year from all of us at The Asset Advisory Group.
By Chip Workman, CFP®