Stepping into fresh beginnings by setting ambitious, yet manageable goals
January is the month of New Years Resolutions. Did you know that, according to U.S. News and World Report, 80% of these resolutions fail? The most common self-promise revolves around “getting in shape” or “losing some weight.” We all know it’s good for us to eat right, exercise more and find a healthier lifestyle. Gyms and exercise classes are packed in January and yet, by mid-February, the crowds have thinned out and most are back to their old habits, or the lack thereof. So why is this so challenging to so many people? Hang on to your hats – this is going to go against conventional wisdom… Your goals are too big! Ever heard of a BHAG? Big Hairy Audacious Goal? We are taught from a young age to “think big” and take on a challenge. But often, the best thing to do is to start small and start with success.
How about those financial goals? Financial fitness is just as important and difficult. We often set audacious savings goals, only to struggle to fulfill the promises to ourselves. One method that I have used myself and greatly benefited from is that of setting monthly or even weekly goals, rather than going “Jackpot or Bust.” For example, instead of saying “I’m going to increase my savings by 40% in 2020,” start by writing down a smaller increment of money that you need to have saved by the end of January, February, and so on. Breaking down our resolutions in this manner makes them seem far more achievable and promotes the brain’s habit-forming function. This psychological “hack” will build your confidence as you reach each smaller milestone.
Another effective way to accomplish your New Year’s goals is to find family members or friends who are interested in making the same or similar resolutions. If you’re like me, going to the gym on a regular basis and having a productive fitness session is much easier to do with a gym partner. Whether it’s a spotter on the bench press or just a companion on the next treadmill over, having a person nearby with the same aspirations and mindset truly makes it easier to get into a good “groove.” In much the same way, surrounding yourself with peers who are looking to improve their financial well-being this year will make your money-managing habits much more effective. Think about it, how much easier will it be to stay home for a weekend rather than go on that expensive trip if you and a friend have resolved to find more affordable activities close to home?
So, I challenge you in 2020 to set an attainable financial savings goal, find a partner to join you and succeed in creating a brighter financial future!
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