From starting a workout plan to saving for retirement, roughly 80% of New Year’s resolution fail within the first month. Of the people who keep their commitments through February and beyond, only 8% ultimately reach their goal. Why is that? If you ask 100 people, you’re likely to get 100 different excuses reasons. Making a resolution is easy. Sticking to it? That’s a different story.
But instead of focusing on the failure, let’s look at some ways to increase your chances of success in 2018. Compiling an exhaustive list of what it takes to accomplish your goals would be…well, exhausting. So, to keep you from getting overwhelmed, we’ve narrowed it down to 5 simple suggestions that should help you start the new year strong.
If you want to get in better shape but haven’t exercised in years, walking for 20 minutes a day makes far more sense than running a marathon in March. If you want to have 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund but haven’t saved a penny over the last year, start with setting aside $20 per paycheck. Realistic goals pave the way for quick wins and consistent progress.
When it comes to setting goals, it’s tempting to speak in generalizations. “I want to feel better.” “I want to be smarter with my money.” The danger of statements like these is that they can’t be measured. Being smart with money is tough to quantify. Paying an extra $50 towards credit card debt is much easier to track. Instead of playing it safe with general statements, dig into the details.
If you’ve ever run a 5K or 10K, you’ve seen THAT person—you know the one. They’re toeing the starting line, psyching themselves up, trembling with anticipation. As soon as the starting gun fires, they launch from the gate at top speed. You probably passed them after a mile or two, didn’t you? As you make your resolutions for the new year, don’t be THAT person. Understand that lasting success isn’t a sprint. Identify your goal, break it down into smaller action steps, and take clear, consistent action towards accomplishing those steps every single day.
If nobody else knows about them, our best intentions can be our worst enemy. It’s easy to say you want to save $100 each month. It’s also easy to rationalize why you missed a month or two. To keep from fooling yourself, ask a trusted friend, family member, or co-worker to check in and keep you accountable. If there’s one thing worse than missing a goal, it’s having to admit it to someone else.
While January 1st seems like a logical time to make a fresh start, let’s not forget that technically it’s just another day. In reality, every day offers the chance to correct mistakes and build on successes. When making your resolutions, allow for some flexibility. Overly restrictive deadlines and constraints can lead to crippling discouragement. The end goal is improvement, not perfection. So yes, set your goals. But don’t forget to leave yourself some room to enjoy the process of achieving them.
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