It happens every 31st of December. Millions of people all over the world promise themselves to improve at least one important aspect of their lives and make it their New Year’s resolution to do so.
The most popular resolutions remain unchanged year after year, drawn from a list that includes getting fit, reducing stress and importantly, saving money so that you can reach your dreams sooner.i Sound familiar?
These are all important and worthwhile goals, but here’s the sad thing. Research indicates that by January 7th, 25 per cent of these resolutions will already be broken.iiAnd this attrition rate will continue, so that up to 80 per cent are likely to have been abandoned within two years.iii
So how can you make sure that you will be one of the minority who do not break their New Year’s promise to themselves? Perhaps the answer lies in our word choice. Rather than making a resolution which can be defined as ‘a firm decision to do or not do something’, why not aim for a revolution, ‘a sudden, complete or marked change in something’. The difference here is between thought and action. And actions when repeated become habits. Good habits achieve goals.
Your first step will be deciding how you will make the time to achieve the change you want, because if your life is already overcommitted you are more likely to fail than to succeed. If your day is already overcrowded, for example, it is unlikely that you will find the extra 30–60 minutes each day to jog, swim, ride a bike or go to the gym unless you drastically reorganise things.
Secondly, you’ll need to research how you’ll reach your goal long before New Year’s Day. Don’t promise yourself to start spending less from the first of January and then do nothing about it until your credit card bounces at the Boxing Day sales. Investigate budget templates now, and review your past few month’s spending patterns (there are heaps of apps to help with this), this will put you in the best possible position to make sure your revolution sticks.
Thirdly, use this research to create an informed plan with measurable outcomes. This way, you’ll be able to hit the ground running come January first.
Revolutions take time
When you think of the great revolutions throughout history, they are often painted as sudden regime changes, overnight shifts in popular thinking. But remember the revolution itself is just the tipping point. Usually the ideas driving the change have been fermenting for a long time. And the hard work that comes with establishing a new system endures long after the revolt.
Your New Year’s revolution will be the same. January first is the tipping point, but the momentum behind your revolution may have been a long time coming and the hard work will continue long into the New Year. So be patient and kind to yourself and forgive any lapses, stay focussed on your goal and you will get there.
Finally, tell all your friends about your revolution so you can earn their praise if you succeed and feel their scorn if you fail — peer pressure is a powerful incentive! And revolutions rarely work without the support of the people. This is particularly important if your goal is a budgetary one, as direct but sensitive communication around money is key to avoiding financial stress.
As you can see, the difference between wishful thinking and real behavioural change is commitment and a plan, and this is never more important than when planning a brighter financial future. If you need help reaching your goals in the New Year, give us a call. We’re always here to help.
Keys to an achievable revolution
1. Simple. You should be able to state your cause in one sentence. E.g. to save enough for a house deposit.
2. Tangible. Make your goals quantifiable and specific. E.g. I will put away $500 a month towards my deposit.
3. Shareable. Tell everyone about your goals, this will make you accountable to them.
i https://www.finder.com.au/most-popular-new-years-resolutions, accessed on 29 Oct 2018
ii https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/01/07/its-january-7-and-a-quarter-of-us-have-already-abandoned-our-new-years-resolutions/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cb75c84659b5, accessed on 29 Oct 2018
iii https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2980864, accessed on 29 Oct 2018