With January already running away from us, we’re getting to that part of the year when some of resolutions might already have begun to slide. Despite our best of intentions, real life has got in the way, like it always does.
Clearly, resolutions help move us closer to our goals. But simply making resolutions might not be enough. A recent survey by Fidelity found that 58 percent of those who made financial resolutions made mistakes, including spending too much on going out, paying unnecessary fees or taking an unplanned trip. Such mistakes might be significant enough to derail the individual’s success.
So here are our top 3 tips to help you keep your New Year financial resolutions on track:
#1 Create vivid visualisations
Take some time out to imagine your future life and indeed your future self. Where do you want to be 5 years from now and what does that look like? Who are you and what do you look like? Think about past experiences that have given you joy and satisfaction and that you want to repeat in the future.
For some people, these experiences might be travel, hobbies or working on your favourite causes. For others, it might be participating in important family events, such as attending reunions, weddings or grandchildren’s activities.
Place pictures of these past happy events in strategic spots to remind you of the possibilities for enjoying your future life. Studies show that using vivid visualizations can boost your chances of meeting goals that you set for yourself.
Psychologists contend that most people don’t think much about their future selves. As a result, they aren’t motivated to take steps now to improve the life of their future selves. But studies show that people who can envision themselves in the future have more desire to care for that future self.
#2 Get S.M.A.R.T.
One of the biggest challenges people encounter when setting financial goals is setting them too high. Or not clearly defining what they wish to achieve. There’s a fine line between setting a goal that is a bit of a stretch and one where you are setting yourself up for failure.
In addition, lack of specificity can seriously hinder your chances at succeeding. To combat this use the S.M.A.R.T. method:
S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound, she says. So for example, instead of saying, ‘I want to save more,’ how much more do you want to save? That’s the specific. We want to make sure it’s measurable, and we can measure how much we want to save.”
A relevant goal is one that pertains to you, that you have control over — like the difference between wanting to save more yourself and wanting your spouse to save more. And making a goal time-bound gives it a deadline, making it easier to track progress and achieve eventual success.
Setting S.M.A.R.T targets will help you set your KPI’s
#3 Obey the law and stay in the moment
Goals and intentions are great, but when determining why our resolutions may or may not be successful, it’s important to remember a very interesting principle.
There’s a concept called Parkinson’s Law that often works against us. It’s this idea that things take up as much space as we give them. So our junk drawers always fill up. If we set time for a calendar for a meeting, it always takes that exact time. And this goes for our money, too. Our expenses always fill up our bank account, unfortunately.
How do you combat that? By using Parkinson’s Law to your advantage: If you dedicate more space to your savings, those resolutions have a better chance of succeeding.
Financial experts also find that financial resolutions work when individuals stay in the moment. While resolutions address future goals, it is more important to focus on being emotionally and mentally present.
“When looking at the future, there are too many variables to figure out exactly how something might work,” says Walter Wisniewski, CFP, of Arcadia Wealth Management. “The secret is to stay in the present moment and appreciate everything we have and can control. Focusing on what we can control helps us feel safe and connected.”
“It can take time to reach our goals and where we want to be; in the mean-time we need to see the abundance around us,” says April Caldwell, a holistic money coach with her own firm. “There are several ways to express gratitude for what we have and the opportunities that lay in front of us, from journaling to creating a bullet point list. This is important because it helps to make people more aware and intentional with their choices, ultimately creating a better financial situation”.