Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Tips for Making - And Not Breaking - Your New Year's Resolutions

Another New Year rolls around and once again, it’s time to come up with those resolutions – the things you hope to accomplish this year, but will probably forget about before Spring rolls around, if not by Valentine's Day. Maybe the real resolution this year should be to actually keep your resolutions.

In an article for the Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Pauline W. Wallin, Ph.D. suggests a few reasons that we don’t keep our resolutions. For starters, they may be poorly timed. There’s nothing necessarily significant about January 1 and it comes so close to the holidays that we have a hard time sticking to our newly formed goals. Or we may abandon resolutions because approach them as a sort of punishment for bad behavior; people can only withstand punishment for so long. And a third reason that resolutions may not stick is because they’re so different from our current lifestyles. To keep a resolution that dramatically different from how we currently love means we have to dramatically change our lives – and that’s a hard thing to do.

No one wants to fail at their resolutions and we don’t want to dread New Years because it means another year of failed resolutions. Instead, we have to get better at setting resolutions that we can keep. Make specific rather than vague resolutions. For example, instead of resolving to get out of debt, set a goal to pay off $2,000 of your debt this year, to pay off an account completely, or to start putting an extra $200 toward your debt each month. You know exactly what you have to do to make it happen. They’re also realistic and achievable. You can pay off an account or pay extra on your debt, but you probably can’t pay off all your debt in a year's time.

An article on TIME.com suggests that another thing that makes it hard to keep New Year’s resolutions. The new year is the only time many people set goals. If you never push yourself to accomplish something, you don’t have practice at making things happen. While you may be excited and motivated by the start of a new year, you don’t have to wait until January 1 to make a resolution or create a goal. You can do that any time of the year that you’re inspired to make a change in your life, no matter how big or small that change may be.

Do you know how you’re going to make your resolution happen? How exactly are you going to save up for the family vacation you've been meaning to take? It seems like a no-brainer that you’re going to set aside a certain amount of money each payday until you’ve saved up enough, but creating a firm plan will put you on a better track to meeting that goal. For example, you may decide that you’re going to save $200 from every paycheck in a separate savings account. It may also mean that you have to cut back on some of your spending to make it easier to save. Think through your resolutions and come up with action steps to meeting them.

Are you making too many resolutions? Maybe that’s the reason that it’s so hard to keep your resolutions – you’re trying to change too many things all at once. Lose weight. Stop smoking. Pay debt. Save money. Improve your credit. Trying to accomplish all of that can get overwhelming at any time of the year. Instead of making five or six resolutions at the beginning of the year, make just one or two specific and realistically achievable goals. Then, later on in the year, say June, you can add on one or two others.

Make sure you know how you’re going to benefit from the resolution. One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to begin with the end in mind. Being able to picture the end state not only can help you figure out how to get there, but also keep you motivated from start to finish. Picture your life without the extra debt, or in the shape that you want to be, or on vacation with your family. When you feel like giving up on your resolutions, remember the benefits of seeing it through to the end.

Remember that your resolutions are an ongoing process. They were important enough for you to make, so don’t let them fall by the wayside. Write your resolutions down and put them where you can revisit them often. It’s ok if you slip up or take a break, recommit yourself to your resolutions and pick back up where you left off.
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Sunday, 20 October 2019

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