By Kevin Gibbons
If you started the new year by making resolutions, you’re in good company. Forty five percent of Americans usually make resolutions.* But what kind of resolutions are you making this year?
While it’s easy to make generalized statements (“I’ll exercise more,” “I’ll save more money”), you will have more success if you choose specific accomplishments.
If you want to increase the likelihood of keeping those resolutions, think of ways to recast them into actionable and measurable goals.
What are “actionable” goals? Those are resolutions that specifically state how you are going to achieve your objective. “I’m going to save more money,” is general. “I’m going to save 15% of my monthly salary,” is more specific. “I am going to set up an auto deposit savings transfer and only access the money under certain specific circumstances,” is actionable.
Take this opportunity to not only set the goal, but also to craft the plan on how to achieve it. Then, throughout the year, you can easily determine if you are making progress on your resolution. You simply have to check to see if you are doing the action you committed to in your resolution. The key is doing the planning to identify the best action.
- Start by stating what you want to accomplish (saving money).
- Narrow it down to a specific goal (saving 15%).
- Define the action or actions that you think are needed to meet that goal (I need to set up the auto-transfer. I need to figure out specifically where I am going to cut my monthly expenses so I don’t have to keep dipping into my new savings.)
- Now you have a resolution that you can start working on right at the beginning of the year! No excuses!
The other aspect of successful resolutions is having a measurable goal. You need to know how you are doing. Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City, was famous for beginning public speeches by asking “How am I doing?”
If you are saving money every month, then check your savings balance monthly and put it in a spreadsheet or on a chart in your room. You can watch the money accumulate every month. If you think you have to dip into the savings at some point, then you can see the effect and decide if it is really worth it. Measuring and monitoring your progress is key to keeping enthused and on track with your resolution. Even if you falter part way through the year, you can see that it is only a small setback and you can get back on track.
One of the principal tenets of The Savvy Life is spending with a purpose. You work hard for you money. You should be getting something valuable for it when you spend it. The same is true with the goals you set for yourself and the way you live. Life does take hard work. There are no shortcuts. But having a plan is the first step towards living the life you want. Being mindful and purposeful in setting goals and making decisions in your day to day life will keep you on track to living a well-balanced and enjoyable life.
*New Year’s Resolution Statistics – Statistic Brain
2016 Statistic Brain Research Institute, publishing as Statistic Brain
December 11, 2016