Un-Breaking the Tradition of Breaking the New Year’s Resolution

Twas the night before the New Year. Over the last two months, you’ve gorged yourself on yule logs, mountains of mashed potatoes, and turkey meat of every incarnation. Come January — come tomorrow — the gluttony and sloth of winter cheat season has to end. Come the new year, you’re going to be a new person!

Historically, let’s be honest here, you’ve probably broken at least one New Year’s Resolution within 48 hours..

Perhaps we’ve been set up to fail by the sheer choice of word, “Resolution.” A resolution is a decision, but one imbued with determination. Even with a copious amount of determination, a decision, like a goal or a dream, has a hard time coming to fruition if there is no plan in place or discipline to fortify it.

Let’s talk about ways to approach your resolutions and goals, 6 steps on how to effectively plan to execute them, and other factors to keep in mind.

Setting a Resolution

Most commonly people choose New Year’s Resolutions with the intention of improving themselves: get back in shape, save more money, read more, drink more water, eat less carbs, etc. They’re all great resolutions! Being healthy, happy, and smarter is beneficial for you and those around you.

They can be the end result OR they can be small goals towards winning even bigger goals. Might I propose focusing your New Year’s Resolutions around your overarching big picture goals?

What problem(s) — in your life, in your work, in the world — do you want to solve?
Where/what/who do you want to focus your energy on?

Here’s an example of a problem to be solved and how you could form different resolutions to tackle the problem.

PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED:

Global Warming

RESOLUTION(S):

  • Plant a tree every year
  • Recycle on a daily basis
  • Make eco-friendly purchases
  • Converse resources (food, water, power)

A reverse approach can also be taken to go from small to big — and better yet, your small goal can compound into accomplishing bigger things.

RESOLUTION:

Save more money

What will that also allow you to accomplish?

  • Possibly a sense of financial security
  • Build a small side hustle business to support yourself and/or family
  • Make big purchases like a car or home
  • Start a family trust or foundation to stop global warming
  • Invest it to earn more in the future
  • Pay off debt
  • Buy the thing you’ve wanted for so long…

Having a big picture goal in mind helps to put into perspective that this resolution shouldn’t be a fleeting whim of a decision, but a valuable step in the grand scheme of things.

Planning for Success

Let’s first take the “save more money” goal. Technically saving $1 or even just 1 cent can be “more.” How much more do you want to save? Don’t leave your goals up to ambiguity; you’ll very likely wind up disappointed with the results (or lack thereof).

STEP ONE: Choose meaningful resolutions and goals (as discussed above)

STEP TWO: Give them results that you can measure (ie. save $24,000)

As with any goal planning, effective planning involves a timeline and actionable items: Save $24,000 in 2019 or by 2022. An executable goal should have a roadmap. If not, you’ll wander aimlessly…lost and worst yet…unproductive.

STEP THREE: Set a deadline and supporting timeline (ie. “In order to save $24,000 by Dec 31, 2019, I need to save $2,000 every month”)

A goal needs a deadline. Let’s say you not only want to save money, but have a bucket list item. They’re notorious for being ambiguous: “I’ve always wanted to speak Spanish. I’ll learn it someday.” If not now, when? Someday is not a day of the week. Plan time; someday won’t come until you set a timeline as to when you want to start learning or by when you want to be proficient, fluent, or just good-enough-to-order-food in Spanish. Dos tacos, por favor.

With a deadline in mind, you can make even the grandest of goals more bite-sized and chewable. For $24,000 by the end of 2019, you’ll need $2,000 per month. That’s $460–500 per week depending on the month and ~$66/day. How can you make that happen? What will you tighten the belt on? What are other ways to make money instead of focusing only on budget cuts?

STEP FOUR: With a road map in mind, determine if this goal is feasible and realistic. Make adjustments as necessary.

If you make $36,000/year and you want to save $24,000, the road ahead will not be easy (perhaps unless you live rent free, have no hobbies, and never go out — or don’t live in LA) Whereas if you make $100,000/year, maybe you can even set the bar higher.

Again, the reverse is always a welcome approach.

You can try orienting your money saving goal with what you can do on a daily basis.

Save $5/day by drinking one less Starbucks, eating out less, buying less on a whim.

$5/day is $1,825 in a year! Go blow it off on a new iPhone XS Max or use it towards a new car downpayment. Or both.

Remember: When the going gets tough, think of your end goal.

You’re saving money for a reason, right? Just think if you save $24,000 this year, you’re that much closer to…for example, buying a home! Better to spend $2,000 on a mortgage than rent, right? Or for the reverse: $5/day can add up. Treat yo’self with that extra $1,825! Again, working on one goal can help with fulfilling others. Effort can compound.

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED : Plan it into your day, week, month. Plan time. — Get your hustle on, but don’t forget to also take breaks

Everyone plans differently. Some people fly by the seat of their pants. Others get by with just to-do lists and at some point, it’ll get done. Me? I live and breathe my calendar. I am the most productive when I plan when I will commit x amount of time to doing y in order to make z happen. It’s also equally important to take adequate breaks, too. Work-life harmony!

Therefore, I strongly recommend that whatever your goal is, plan time to get it done. Plan your deadlines, plan your milestones, plan the chunks of time needed to make progress on it.

See example here.

STEP FIVE: Determine how you will track your progress and hold yourself accountable.

A year is a long time, and it’s easy to take an unplanned detour away from your roadmap. Here are some ideas to keep you on track:

  • The most rudimentary: place your written-out goals somewhere visible and obvious.
  • Reinforce the deadlines and milestones/metrics with reminders (timers, apps
  • Track your progress
  • Get your friends and family involved with your goals — when appropriate. Share your aspirations with them and maybe even tackle the journey together (ie. find an exercise buddy or a peer to cheer you on).
  • Similarly, consider consulting professionals for their advice (ie. an accountant regarding your finances or a real estate agent if you’re looking to buy a home).

If you do get sidetracked, it’s okay. It happens. Get back on the road ASAP. Re-evaluate and re-calibrate your deadlines and milestones. Any time is a good time to start planning. While the New Year is symbolic because it’s a restart to our calendar, every day in it of itself is a new day. That’s a new chance to make that day great.

Other Factors

While it’s easy to plan, sometimes life and its baggage can slow us down or impede progress altogether. Here are a few things to think about.

What negative behaviors would you like to change in your life?
How have you been managing your time?
Is your physical environment organized or cluttered?
Do you feel like you have control over your life?
Does your physical health permit a rigorous schedule or not? Plan realistically.
Do you have honest and positive relationships?
Are you making financially sustainable decisions?

There are no right or wrong answers. Think about where you are right now and where you want to be. You’ve got this!

STEP SIX: Get going! Good luck, Happy New Year & Happy Planning!