Did you make a New Years resolution for 2020? How’s it going? Most resolutions fail, but there’s a way to make them more likely to succeed…
Let’s take the example of someone who wants to get healthier in 2020. They might start eating healthy, going to the gym, running, etc. But often, by the end of January they have fallen back into their old habits. Depending on what study you read, between 75% and 90% of people fail to keep their New Years resolutions.
The reason? I think it’s because there is no substance to the goal, or system to achieve it. Let me explain…
Find your why
The first part starts before you even begin. You need to figure out why you want to achieve this particular goal. Back to our example, why do you want to be healthy? Is the idea of having a six pack going to keep you training when it’s cold, wet and dark? Or maybe it’s the idea of being fit and healthy to play with your children/grandchildren.
Whatever it is, find that reason.Your why needs to be a compelling and personal reason. That way, the goal becomes much more compelling and meaningful.
Write it down
Once you have your goal and your why, write it down. When writing it down, try to be as vivid in building a picture of what life will be like if you can achieve that goal as possible. If there is a picture you can associate to the goal, attach that too.
The process of writing down your goals has been shown in numerous studies to increase the likelihood of achieving that goal. Once it’s written down, make sure you post it somewhere that you will see it regularly. It might be on your fridge, bathroom mirror or your desk at work. But have it somewhere that reminds you what you’re trying to do and why it’s important.
This one requires a bit of bravery, but publicise what your goal is! If you tell someone else, you are more likely to stick to your goal. Why? Because when it gets tough to stick to your goals, having the knowledge that you may be asked about your progress by someone else will help keep you going.
Build your system/habits
Think about how you will achieve your goal. What will you need to do? What support will you need? In the above example, what will a typical week look like to get you and keep you healthy? How many times will you workout / run / attend a fitness class?
When building this system, be realistic! This is the way you will achieve your goal, so you need to be able to stick to it. Eventually, you need to turn this system into your habits. If you are going to work out three times a week, you need to become someone who automatically works out on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday before work (as an example) without even thinking. If you want to start running, you need to build it into a regular running habit.
This is linked to publicising your goal, but having someone you are accountable to can really help. Someone who is going to check on progress, motivate you and make sure you are sticking to your goal. It may be someone who you share a common goal with, e.g. someone who also wants to get healthy and is on the journey with you.
By following these guidelines, I fully believe that you could radically improve your odds of sticking to and achieving your New Year’s resolutions (and goals). But what does all this have to do with financial planning? I believe the above guidelines are the reason why financial planning done well is so powerful. A good financial planner will…
- Help you discover your ‘why’ behind your money and what’s important;
- Help you establish and quantify your goals;
- In the process you will publicise these goals (to your financial planner);
- Build a system (financial plan) to help you achieve your goals;
- Document your goals and the system to get you there;
- Work as your accountability partner to keep you doing the things you need to do to remain on track.
If you know someone who would like some input in how to achieve their life goals in a structured and organised way, please feel free to contact us.