Make Goals Not Resolutions

Please, Don’t Make Any New Year’s Resolutions

Yes, we’re getting close to 2024 and new year’s resolutions are starting to be mentioned. Do any of these seem familiar?

  • Improve fitness: This is usually the most popular resolution.
  • Improve finances: People resolve to improve their financial situation, which can involve saving more, creating a budget, or paying off debt.
  • Lose weight: Losing is up there and is not necessarily tied to fitness.
  • Improve diet or eating habits: again, there is a tie into losing weight and improving fitness.

According to Forbes and You Gov,  it shows that 37% of Americans said they had established a goal or resolution they wanted to achieve in 2023. According to Ohio State University only 9% fulfill their resolutions. I raise my hand guilty. I have done this plenty of times in the past.

Not only is there the pressure of the resolution, but the cost can have a real impact on finances directly. The National Institute of Health calculated that weight loss programs can run into the thousands of dollars. Exercise equipment and gym memberships are not cheap either.

Annual Goal Planning

So, what is your alternative? Take that passion and energy and channel it into a goal planning system that lets you take a broad statement like “improve finances” and break it down into a strategy that is not a resolution but a way of life. Through solid goal planning you can better define success and build towards a solution versus a resolution.

Let’s walk through an annual goal process example using “Improve Finances” as an example.

  • Define a goal that is measurable. For our example, we declare we want to improve our finances and save $10,000 dollars in 2024. Now, I might be accused of putting the cart before the horse. This is a starting point. You may find it goes up or down once you have more information.
  • Create the steps to complete the goal. As it relates to finances, some examples might be to create a budget, identify areas where you can cut back on spending, determine how much you will save in defined time frames (example $192.31 each week for 52 weeks), or hire a financial advisor. Your goal can contain only one step or many. In this case, it can be a combination of saving money and cutting back on spending.
  • Set timelines around each of those activities. Using the steps presented it might look like: finalize the budget and hire a financial advisor by February 1st, start saving and expense reductions by March 1. Don’t just say, “By the end of the year.” That is too vague and won’t allow you to celebrate incremental advancement.
  • Determine how you will gauge progress. Again, in the finances approach, your tool will be your budget, your bank account balance, and the performance of your portfolio with a financial advisor. If you are unable to measure your goal, then it will die like most New Year’s resolutions.
  • Don’t do it alone, get trusted support. The power of attaining goals can be helpful when you have people come alongside you and help hold you accountable. From a finance perspective, that could be a financial advisor, spouse, relative, or close friend. You need to be able to and want to listen to their advice and be ready to take their criticism.
  • The goal is meant to be seen…often. Don’t invest time in a budget only to “put it on a shelf” or file it away to then pull it out in December to see how you did. Plants need sunlight to grow and thrive. So does your goal. The more you have access to what you are doing, the more real it is in your life.
  • Don’t be afraid to adapt tactics or the goal itself. In our “improve finances” example or save $10,000, let’s say we are actually able to start saving $250 dollars a week because we got a raise. That means we might decide to save for 40 weeks and enjoy the extra cash for additional personal pursuits. On the other hand, we decide to raise the savings goal to $13,000. Adjusting the original plan needs to be approached from a positive mindset whenever possible.

Resolve to Set Goals

Resolutions are fun conversation starters, but they usually are not an approach that solves anything. Sincerely setting a goal that is measurable, with actionable steps, timelines, defined, not done in isolation, reviewed often, and has the flexibility to be adjusted becomes a powerful lifestyle tool that will open up other avenues in your life.   

Learn more about the lifestyle possibilities of your future self.

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