New Years is a great time to pause and reflect on the past year and all of the experiences, triumphs, and defeats we underwent in the span of 12 short months. A new year creates the opportunity for an entirely new beginning. A clean slate. Most of us will promise ourselves that we will do everything in our power to make the year ahead much better than the year before. Many will join a gym. Some will start a diet. Reach out for financial help or vow to pay off debt. The problem is, our best intentions rarely become our reality. We often tell ourselves, "Next year will be different.” The hard truth of the matter is that next year will not be different unless we begin to take action now. We do not need elaborate plans in place in order to make things happen or achieve our goals. Simplicity is key - and so is being realistic.
A simple and realistic plan greatly increases your chances of success. This is because simplicity allows for us to succinctly focus on a task, and develop a plan that can be easily achieved. If you have not been to the gym in years, is it realistic to think that come January 1st you will go five days a week for the rest of your life? I will paraphrase a statement found in a Wall Street Journal article that essentially said, "Data shows, resolve starts to waver in the third week of January". The article then references a study that suggests it takes 66 days to form a habit. The question you should be asking yourself now is, "How do I get to day 66?" The answer is simple: small wins.
Remember how I said shooting for a goal that is both simple and realistic is key? Understanding that you will not go to the gym 5 days a week, consistently, allows you to come up with a more realistic plan. This way, you can work towards that goal without getting burnt out and giving up within the first few weeks. Create weekly ‘small win’ goals, geared towards helping you accomplish realistic tasks on a weekly basis (rather than a year at a time). This is very important. Resolving to make positive changes in this way allows you to create a positive feedback loop, which will, in turn, increase your chances of success.
The principle behind this theory could be applied to everything in life, especially your finances. If you think about it for a long enough period of time, you will eventually come to realize that your financial health impacts your entire life. Do not let another year go by without creating ‘small win’ goals to help you achieve what you want out of life. For example, having a comfortable retirement.
Plan today for what you want to have tomorrow. Not sure where to begin? Budgeting is a great place to start. Click here for a great resource to get you started with small wins. Also, reaching out for financial help can make a big difference in reaching goals.