Making a Financial Resolution this Season? [Printable PDF]
Tips for making and keeping your resolutions!
There’s power in making a resolution! Research finds that people who make resolutions are up to ten times more likely to attain their goals than those who don’t explicitly make a resolution to change. To maximize your chances of success, pick ONE goal right now, not a laundry list of changes. Maybe you want to spend less, start saving for retirement, or giving to charity.
But just making the resolutions usually isn’t enough: Go public with your commitment, and get others to join you on your journey. Telling others is a great commitment strategy to keep you on track. Research shows taking a financial management course together as a couple can help improve your relationship. Finding an accountability partner can help you attain your own.
There’s no need to wait until the first of the year to make a change, but often people will pick a date that signifies a new beginning – a birthday, the first of the month or even just a Monday morning – to start a new routine. It’s a good psychological trick for marking a “new beginning” — as long as we don’t use it to delay taking action.
- Write down your resolutions: List them, and be specific. What do you want to accomplish, and by what date? What are the steps that you’re going to take to achieve these goals? Which resolution is the most important? As you’re making the list, add a few resolutions that you know you can easily accomplish, so you’ll feel like you’re making progress immediately. By writing things down, being specific and setting up a plan to accomplish the goals, you take a wishy-washy dream and turn it into a step-by-step plan.
- Start small. Last year, a friend told me his resolution was to lose 50 pounds in five months. I suggested trying to lose five pounds by the end of January, instead. Smaller, incremental gains are easier to achieve than big, seemingly impossible goals that can always be put off until “later.”
- Think big.Most of us focus our New Year’s resolutions on all the little things about ourselves that we want to change: Go to the gym every day, lose weight, eat better. This year, consider adding an item to that resolutions list that’s bigger than you: Volunteering for a specific charity. Serving your community. Anything that will take you out of yourself for a little while. Think about your purpose, values, and goals and start thinking big about whom you could positively impact with your many gifts.
- Check up on yourself in March. I know a successful businessman who sets the alarm on his digital watch for 10 a.m. every morning. When the alarm goes off, he asks himself if he’s started working yet. He knows himself well: On most mornings he’ll come into the office around 8:30, wade through his email, talk to his colleagues, get some coffee, talk to some more colleagues, and suddenly, his watch starts beeping to remind him that it’s 10 a.m. and he’d better get cracking on some real work. Put a note in your planner on March 1: How are those New Year’s resolutions going? Did you accomplish you first few goals? Did you take the first steps toward change? If not, catch yourself in March—and hopefully you won’t be making the same resolutions again next year.