January has come and gone and if you’re like most people, your New Years resolutions are a distant memory. Looking back at the month, you might feel a modicum of shame or you might turn a blind eye to the lack of progress you’ve made with your resolutions.
Your first powerful move is to hit the reset button.
There is absolutely no difference between January 1st and today. It’s a mindset: failure was yesterday—and your next opportunity for success is today.
Many people use the New Year as a marking post to improve their money lives, whether it is getting out of debt, building a nest egg, or simply getting a handle on their finances. Make this year the year you reach your goals — or come as close as you’ve ever come.
To reenergize your money life, consider the following 5 steps:
1. Assess your current situation. Where are you now? What do you know? What don’t you know? Write it down on paper. Research indicates that the physical act of writing words on paper helps connect the ideas more firmly into your mind. It also creates accountability.
2. Plant your flag. What MUST happen in order for you to feel like you are moving forward in your life? These are called your “Money Musts”. This is where you (and any other stakeholders) need to declare your values clearly, succinctly and factually. For example, “I must change my spending in order to live within my comfort zone so that I may accumulate sufficient resources to create options and opportunities in my future.”
3. Who supports your efforts? Remember that no one, including you, can be an expert in everything. Consult with professionals who can help you move in the right direction. Ask questions about their credentials, experience and whether they are working in your best interest. For example, a Financial Advisor or Financial Planner can be anyone from a stockbroker or insurance agent to a Fee-only Certified Financial Planner™. Ascertain the skills you need to help you move your goals forward.
4. Create small, meaningful wins. A common set back with goal setting is that the distance between the beginning and end feels too far to fuel confidence, patience and focus. For example, if you need to go on a diet and shed thirty pounds, it feels huge and intimidating. However, if your goal is one pound, it makes it easier — you’ll be more likely to hit the goal, one pound at a time. When it comes to financial goals, you can only control your actions one moment at a time. Your decision not to engage in retail therapy moves you closer to your goal of accumulation and controlling unnecessary spending. Each victory deserves acknowledgement.
5. Missteps are not fatal. Here’s a test: stand in front of a cold window or mirror and breathe onto the glass with an intent to fog the glass. Were you successful? Yes? Then you passed the test. You’re alive and subject to making mistakes—it’s human. If you’ve overspent your budget or failed to save this pay period, you haven’t failed altogether, you just need to do better tomorrow. Like the diet, one cookie doesn’t shatter the chance for success, it only might delay it. The issue is to stop eating the cookies and get back to your goal… one meal at a time.
Whether it’s February 13th or April 7th, it’s always the right time to refocus your efforts to make small changes that move you in the right direction. Small victories build to great accomplishments, so cast off any blame or shame and put on your party hat! Happy New Years!