5 Tips to Successful New Years Resolutions

2012

We all enter the new year with hopes and dreams of a brighter future.  A new beginning.  This includes trying to improve ourselves, whether by losing a few pounds, training for a marathon even though we may have never run further than the mailbox or socking away a few thousand for a rainy day.  If you are like nearly half of the population, you have created at least one New Year's Resolution.  But the majority of those resolutions are guaranteed to fail.  The high failure rate is probably why the other half have stopped creating resolutions.  But why is the failure rate so high?   It's because what we do today are habits and behaviors that have been formed over time that we are very comfortable and familiar with.  Change is hard because it requires us to modify a behavior and form a new habit.

Let's say I want to create a rainy day fund as an example New Year's Resolution.  The way I currently spend and save is a comfortable behavior, because this is the way I've always done it.  I may go out to lunch every day or have a morning treat of a half caf caramel Machiatto.  If I wish to save more than I have in the past, one of two things are going to have to happen.  I either need to make more money or reduce my spending.   The easiest solution is to reduce spending.  But where?  I need everything.  I'll die without my half caf caramel Machiatto in the morning. Well I don't want you to die, so here are five very simple tips to help increase the odds of you achieving your New Year's Resolution.

  1. Make only one resolution at a time. Resolutions can be like our appetite.  As our eyes can be sometimes bigger than our stomachs, so too can our ambitions be bigger than our ability to see things through.  On New Year's Eve, I feel like I can conquer the world.  New Year's day...another story.   So, if you have created more than one resolution, take some time to think through these and pick the one that you feel the greatest desire in achieving.  This leads into our next tip.
  2. You have to really want it. If you want success, than it has to start in the heart.  If the desire is only so-so or if you're doing it because someone told you you should, than odds are you are already the majority of the way towards failure.
  3. Break a resolution down into smaller goals. Don't try to eat the whole elephant.  It's guaranteed to come right back up on you.  Break your New Year's goal down into smaller, achievable goals.  If your overall goal is to have an emergency savings of $5000 by the end of the year, break that $5000 down into 12 smaller goals of $416 per month.  $416 is a lot easier to swallow than $5000.
  4. Develop an actionable plan to meet smaller goals. So, how are you going to save $416 per month?  Well if you break this down even further, you need to come up with $14 a day.  Start jotting down ideas on where you can reduce your spending by this much.  Making your own lunch instead of buying it might come out to a $7 savings.  Shopping around your car insurance might net you a couple of bucks a day.
  5. Celebrate your wins! That's right.  Each month you achieve your smaller goal, celebrate in some way.  It makes the journey a lot more fun and enjoyable.  If you miss your goal, don't throw up your arms and give up.  With these smaller goals, it's easier to look back and see why you missed the mark and make small adjustments to help you achieve the goal next month.

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