Are you thinking about eating turkey with the family and picking out the perfect Christmas tree at this time of year? Or are you like many other future-thinkers who are already fast-forwarding to come up with a list of new year’s resolutions to make 2018 more successful, healthier, etc. etc.? If you’re one of the millions of Americans who make (and break) resolutions at the beginning of the year, you might want to consider doing things differently this time.
Why Your Resolutions Fail
80% of new year’s resolutions are in the toilet by February. Why? It has a lot to do with the power of habit and also our rose-colored glasses. We underestimate how many habits we’ve formed over the course of a lifetime and how deeply ingrained those habits are. It’s likely we’ve repeated our current habits on a daily or weekly basis for years—and that’s not easy to change. We have our rose-colored glasses on when we make our resolutions. It seems pretty easy to tell yourself you’re going to save more money each paycheck in 2018 when you’re still spending freely in December. However, once the time comes to actually change your spending habits, those glasses come off and the hard work begins. Though we can usually power through for a few weeks or months, we inevitably get tired and give up if we haven’t put the right structure in place.
A Better Plan to Achieve 2018 Goals
Want to make this year different? Sometimes a few tweaks are all you really need to turn your new year’s resolutions into actual achievable goals. Here are three tips:
Don’t Try to Drop Habits—Replace Them
It’s incredibly difficult to drop a habit. Whether you’re trying to eliminate that cup of morning joe or striving to stop checking your investments daily, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you simply try to kick the habit. The key is to replace bad habits with good ones. Say you want to cut out coffee in the morning. Instead of trying to go without any type of drink, replace your coffee with a smoothie and develop a newer, healthier habit. If this is too much, make the habit extremely easy to replace for the first week by ordering a decaf coffee instead of your regular caffeine-laced drink. After you achieve a week of change, you can take the next step by switching out the decaf with your smoothie.
Invest Time and Money
One of the reasons we don’t achieve new year’s resolutions is because we don’t have enough incentive to do so. Will anyone else really care or will we lose anything if we go back to our coffee habit? Probably not. If you don’t invest some time or money into your goal, it’s just too easy to quit. That’s why those who want to lose weight invest in an up-front yearly gym membership or time with a trainer. Depending on what your resolution is, you could sign up for online classes, buy equipment to help you achieve the goal, or find another way to make an investment that you will waste if you don’t follow through.
Allow Yourself to Fail—For a Minute
Too many people let stumbling blocks turn into total failures when they actually should be learning experiences and springboards to getting better. Do you find yourself wallowing in excessive worry and doubt when you don’t achieve a goal or make a mistake? If so, you’re missing out on one of the best learning tools available to us all. Will you achieve your new year’s resolution without ever back sliding or dropping the ball? I seriously doubt it. But one mis-step should not mean you throw the entire goal out the window until next year. When you grab that grande dark roast because you’re struggling through a stressful morning or find yourself obsessively checking your investments every day for a week, don’t despair. Simply understand the reasons why you acted the way you did, get yourself back on track as soon as possible, and do better.
Are you tired of making resolutions you can never keep? Do you wonder why you keep dropping the ball over and over? It’s likely you haven’t developed the proper structure to help you achieve your goals. When you focus on replacing the habit, investing some money into your goal and not equating mistakes with failure, you’ll be much more likely to succeed. Are any of your resolutions for 2018 money or retirement related? If so, please reach out. I’d love to chat more about achieving your financial goals.
Patrick Tucker, owner of True Measure Wealth Management, has over 20 years experience in the industry and has spent the last 15 years learning the ins and outs of the fee-only advisory business. He focuses on client behaviors and what ‘wealth’ means for each individual client to provide caregiving plans that leads to a mindful fulfillment of financial goals. A lifelong learner, Patrick uses his continued knowledge to become a valued partner for his clients and help them explore the wisdom of true wealth.