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I have a confession to make. Two weeks into the new year and I have already failed at my New Year's Resolution.
I have yet to set foot in a gym, have late-night binged on snacks, and the only time my heart rate was over 100 was watching NFL Playoff games. Instead of being healthier and losing weight, I found some.
And that's ok.
A commonly referenced statistic, I'm not sure where it's from but I'm sure it's accurate, is that only 8% of people keep their New Year's Resolutions. According to a US News article, 80% of New Year's Resolutions fail by the second week in February. So, if you are in the same boat as me, we're not alone.
What now? What do you do after you fail your New Year's Resolutions? Give up? Make January 18th Resolutions?
Sort of. I plan to make new goals. After scouring google for tips, I thought I would share them here. Most of them I already knew, and you will too, but they are a good reminder.
Know Your Why
Losing weight, saving more money, and paying off debt, are all great goals, but they likely aren't your “real” goal. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to save more? Why do you want to pay off your debt?
Without the answer to your why, you might just be going through the motions, or choosing goals because that's what you are “supposed” to do.
When I think about why I want to lose weight, I think of my girls. I want to be healthy enough that I can play with them for hours at the park. I want to set a good example for them on living in moderation. I want to live long enough to see my daughters grow up and support them when they need help. That's motivation times 100.
For me the why completely changes my goal from “lose weight” to “be healthy for my kids”.
How does your why change your goal? If it's to save money, what are you saving for? And if it's for retirement, what do you want to do in retirement? How will getting out debt impact your finances?
It boils down to, how will achieving your goal make you feel? How will it change your life?
Answers to these questions give purpose and meaning to your goal and will help you stay on track.
Start Your Goal Small
Back in college, the early years of college, I could run a half-mile in under 2 minutes.
Man, I would love to be able to do that again! But unless I become the Six Million Dollar Man (If you don't know the show, look it up.), a goal of reclaiming my former glory is utterly unrealistic. I am setting myself up for disappointment.
That doesn't mean dream small. Dream big, but start small. Have a small goal, hit it, and then push yourself with another small increase.
If your goal is to pay down debt, start by creating a spending plan. Then add a little extra in the payment to your highest interest rate or smallest balance debt. If after a couple months you feel that you can add more, do it!
Small goals have a higher likelihood of success and can provide excellent motivation.
Have An Accountability Buddy
Having someone that can help cheer you on is a great asset. So is having someone that can occasionally kick you in the rear.
Pick a supportive friend or family member to share your goal and invite them to check in regularly on your progress. Even better, find someone with a similar goal and go on the journey together. Share your experiences and celebrate your wins!
If you both have a goal to make more money this year, you can try out various methods, comparing what worked and what didn't. Sharing feedback could help both of you reach your goal.
It's important to note that you should choose someone who is positive towards your progress. They can be tough on you when you fail, that's a must, but not in a negative way. An empowerment buddy is more powerful than a drill sergeant.
Know That You Will Fail
Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of goals.
You decide to get in shape start working out, then come down with the flu. You start saving extra money, building up your emergency fund, and then your hot water heater fails. You decide to try new things, like skydiving, and then your parachute doesn't open… ok, in that one I suppose you succeeded at the skydiving part, but not a good outcome. Also, life didn't get in the way, it got out of the way.
In the Trolls Movie, there is a song that Princess Poppy sings as she goes to rescue her friends from the Bergens, it's “Get Back Up Again”. Poppy faces insurmountable odds as everything around her tries to eat her. But each time she falls, she gets back up again. (If you would like to get the song stuck in your head you can listen to Get Back Up Again here.)
Yeah, I totally just quoted the Trolls Movie. Well, I am a dad. FYI, if you haven't watched Trolls, you should!
If you fail or miss your goal, get back up and try again. Be patient and…
Your goals will have a much higher success rate if you enjoy working towards them.
If you have to drag yourself to the gym and hate every moment of awkward exercise in front of strangers, try something else. Take up a recreational sport like basketball or volleyball. Enjoy scenic bike rides, or walk in the park.
Goals and resolutions don't have to be downers. Have fun, try to stay on track, and remind yourself of your purpose.
What are your goals? Why and how do you plan to achieve them?
I would love to hear from you. Send me an email at Alex [at] FinHealthy.com