By: Kelly Majdan, AIF, QPFC, CRPS – Managing Director, Pensionmark
It’s been reported that the majority of people by mid-February, about 80% according to U.S. News & World Report, will give up on those inspiring New Year’s resolutions that were made with euphoric enthusiasm as the clock struck 12 on December 31st. In fact, many start to waver by mid-January according to Strava, and by mid-February, the rest are back to business as usual. According to many articles written on the subject, there are several reasons why this happens: our resolutions are too ambitious, we lack clarity of our goals, we lose interest, or even that the word “resolution” is just too strong of a word for us. Whatever the case is, some resolutions like improving your health and building your wealth, are just too important to let fall by the wayside until next December when you decide it is time to address these again.
How to get back on the resolution horse again
We all know when we fail at something it is important to dust yourself off and jump back in. The same is true with the health and wealth goals you have made for 2020. So, to help you keep these very important resolutions, the following are some ideas to get you back on track again.
Identify your excuses
No matter what goal you are striving for, when you fail or fall short, there is a reason why you did. For many of us, we tend to justify the failure with any number of excuses, these excuses tend to make us feel better and gives us an out. When it comes to our health goals, we tell ourselves that “this (fill in the blank) just doesn’t work for me” or “I will never lose this weight” or “I just don’t have time” or “I am too tired” or … and the list goes on. For our wealth goals, we tell ourselves that “I will never get out of debt” or “We don’t make enough” or “I don’t know how to budget” or, well, you get the point. But behind every excuse, there is a deeper reason.
It could mean you were too ambitious with your goal. If you do not exercise at all and you set a goal to exercise every day, that might just be too big of a life change for you. You might also find that you didn’t consider how much effort would be needed to hit a certain goal. Say for instance you want to eat better, but you do not have a lot of time to cook, it is easy to fall back to fast food lines when in a pinch. You have a goal to create a budget for yourself or your family but getting your arms around your finances is a more difficult than you had imagined. Identifying why you didn’t keep your resolution will provide you with the insight you need in order to continue working toward your overall goal.
Action – take a quiet moment to sit down and really think through why you gave up on that goal to get healthy and/or improve your finances. Write down all the reasons you come up with.
Small steps lead to huge successes…over time!
We live in this instant gratification world that is truly unrealistic, it seems we have lost patience with ourselves, with our goals, and with each other. If you want to build a comfortable nest egg or get out of debt, you can, but it takes time. If you want to lose some weight or get in shape, or both, you can, but the healthy way is to do it over a period of time, not in a couple of weeks. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but there are no get rich quick schemes and there is no way to lose weight quickly (a healthy way that is!). Period!! That is not the end of the story though. Small changes may lead to huge successes, if you are consistent with the changes you make.
In the example above regarding exercising every day, you can get there over time but start slowly. Start by exercising twice a week doing something you enjoy, or your body can handle, which might be as simple as walking for 20 minutes twice a week. For eating better, it could be as simple as identifying one or two days a week where you can prep your meals ahead of time. The added benefit here is the money you save by not going through that fast food line is much friendlier to your budget too.
When it comes to tackling your household budget, take it one month at a time. Start with working on getting your arms around the basics – what it takes to live – like your mortgage/rent, utilities, car payments, etc. In the next month, start tracking all your credit card charges and other expenses. By the third month, your budget and household expense picture should become clearer and allow you to take the next steps, which might be looking at areas where you can cut back and save more.
Small, incremental changes done consistently over time may make a huge impact. Have some patience with yourself and the process.
Action – once you identified why your resolution failed, find one solution that will help you achieve a portion of your goal to move you one step closer.
Act, celebrate, then continue to move forward toward your goals
“Do or do not. There is no try” – Yoda
Such a wise, little, green guy! The only way to succeed at anything is to take a step, then another, then another. If you sit still, you will forever be disappointed in your resolve to hit your goals. We all have several obstacles in our way, our objective should be to identify them, then work to move them out of our way or to move around them. You can achieve what you set before you, it just might take a little more time than you had anticipated. Therefore, it is extremely important to act, but just as important to celebrate your wins, then re-evaluate your goals and accomplishments so far so that you can identify your next steps and overcome your next excuse, I mean obstacle!
Becoming healthier and wealthier is a process. Accepting that fact, along with that fact that you are human, and that you will stumble along the way, will help you be able to dust yourself off and start again. Just continue to move forward and don’t let the resolution to be healthier and wealthier fade into the background. For your future, and for your family, those goals are way too important to not find the courage to continually act on them!
Cheers to a healthier and wealthier New Year!