Do you and your friends bother creating New Year’s resolutions anymore? If you do, how long do you follow through on them before you say forget it?
As you know, creating New Year’s resolutions for yourself is the same as setting goals for yourself. Many of us make the same resolutions every New Year’s but rarely keep them. Could it be because we’re setting impractical goals for ourselves that we can’t possibly achieve?
When we create bad goals for ourselves through our New Year’s resolutions we are only setting ourselves up for failure.
I’m sure you have read this a million times before but there actually is a way to set and achieve realistic goals. It is known as the S.M.A.R.T. system, as shown here:
How To Turn a Bad New Year’s Resolution Into a Good One
I will quit smoking on January 1st.
The average smoker tries to quit at least 7 times before he actually kicks the habit.
Why? Because it’s easy to get frustrated when you try one method and it doesn’t work right away. You need to have several back-up plans because one product or method doesn’t work for everyone.
Understand that making a significant change to your life such as quitting smoking will most likely not happen in an instant.
Set reasonable goals such as, “By ___ (date) I will only smoke ____ cigarettes a day.” Slowly become less dependent on them until you reach your goal.
I will lose weight.
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is “I will lose weight this year”.
When it comes to losing weight many of us procrastinate. We tell ourselves things like “I will start again after Thanksgiving”, or we say “with Christmas coming I am surrounded by cookies and Eggnog so I may as well just wait until after the holidays are over”.
Then come January 2nd (because we are still celebrating on January 1st) we clean out our fridge of any and all sweets and we go online to see if our local gym is offering any new membership discounts.
How many of us make the resolution to “get in shape” or to simply “lose weight"? This isn’t a specific goal, nor does it contain any sort of measurable timeline in which to perform the task.
A better way to do this would be to say, “I want to lose _____ pounds by _____ (date). I will do this by following this specific diet plan and exercising at the gym 3 times a week for 60 minutes at a time.”
By being more specific you now have a solid strategy that you can follow to achieve your goal of losing weight and getting into shape.
I will spend more time with my family.
How often have you said “this year I will spend more time visiting my family”?
Again, you need to have a plan to do this. Simply stating that you will spend more time with your family won’t make it happen. This may not even be a very attainable goal if you live far away from your family or can’t give up time at the office.
I will invite my parents over for dinner one Sunday a month.
Look at your schedule, evaluate your priorities, and make the necessary changes to free up the time you’ll need to spend the extra hours with your family.
Determine exactly how many extra hours you need to make this happen. What will have to be rearranged? You will need to make these decisions if you really want to accomplish this goal.
This year I will get out of debt!
This is a resolution that requires a lot of planning and specific changes to the way you do things. If you’re living in a cycle of debt, you need to plan a strategy to reduce your spending significantly, as well as pay off the debt you already have.
Set specific goals such as “I will have ____ (amount) paid off by _____ (date). I will do this by cutting ____ (amount) from my spending each week.”
Without a realistic timeline in place, you just know that you will quickly return to your old habits.
If the amount that you currently owe is quite large I’m sure it can feel quite overwhelming, almost to the point of thinking “why should I even bother?”. Believe me, when I say I understand that feeling.
But you can pay off your debt by breaking the debt down into smaller, more realistic goals that will be easier for you to achieve.
Begin by paying off one credit card or other outstanding debt at a time and take pride when you get that final statement with a zero balance. Stick it on the fridge as a reminder that you can do it.
As well, one of the things that you will find extremely helpful is to talk to a financial advisor who can help you setup a reasonable plan for you to follow as you work towards getting out of debt this year.
I waited a very long time to speak to several financial professionals about my debt issue and during that time of putting it off I became so depressed and stressed out. I will share with you that literally every night I would sit on the sofa after dinner and worry myself to tears about what how we (my husband and I) were going to pay off all of this crappy debt. Once I met with them and we discussed things on a practical level instead of an emotional level, I left their offices feeling so much better about my future finances.
We all understand that if we really want to commit to achieving our New Year’s resolutions then we need to take the necessary steps and do the required work. Otherwise why even bother talking about them in the first place?