New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep. You’re up and running with them in January, but come March, they’re a forgotten holiday memento, like the leftover eggnog in the back of your fridge.
So what’s the secret to sticking with your New Year’s resolution? In this video I produced for Fidelity, I offer and ask for advice. Check it out, and in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite tips:
Set smaller milestones
If you have a lofty goal, break it up into smaller milestones. For example, let’s say your goal is to pay off $1,000 worth of credit card debt this year. When you have regular expenses to keep up with, maybe even student loan payments, $1,000 probably seems like a huge chunk of change. To make it easier to swallow, break it up into a daily goal to save $2.70. Or make it a weekly goal of twenty bucks. This not only makes the goal seem easier, it makes the goal more present. When your goal is more present, it’s not as easy to procrastinate it.
Look at Your Past Behavior
One of the people I interviewed offered some great advice: think about some past goals you achieved. Figure out what helped you accomplish them. Whatever worked for you in the past will likely work for you now, too.
Also, being realistic about your own habits and behaviors will make a big difference. I’ve talked about this before, but when I wanted to get out of student loan debt, for example, I made a crazy strict budget that allowed no room for fun or the occasional tiny indulgence. It wasn’t realistic, and as a result, I busted my budget and failed at my debt payoff goals. But when I adjusted my budget based on reality, I came up with a plan and I was successful.
Take the Pressure Off
Another reason resolutions are hard to keep? We build them up into huge, life-changing events. That’s a lot of pressure. It’s intimidating. Overwhelming. One of the people I interviewed said his goal was to move out of his parents’ place and find a place to live in the City, where he works. It was such a huge, exciting goal, he felt the pressure and it was scary. His advice was to break the goal up into actionable steps, sort of like setting smaller milestones. Instead of taking on a huge, abstract objective (move to NYC), turn your goal into a series of less intimidating tasks. Price apartments. Save an emergency fund. Find a roommate. There’s less weighing on those tasks; therefore, they’re more manageable, practically and emotionally speaking.
Create a Visual Reminder
As the novelty of goal-setting wears off, it’s easy to forget about your resolution. A visual reminder can help with that. The example I give in the video is leaving a note about your goal on your credit card. This way, anytime you’re tempted to spend, you’re confronted with your goal.
Do you guys have money resolutions for 2016? Feel free to share them, below! Mine is to reduce my restaurant spending (I Periscoped about it here). My plan is to cut back a little each month, look for my spending triggers, and then actually save the money I save. I’ll keep you posted!