Over the many decades of giving advice on how to succeed in keeping New Year’s resolutions, I think about how I can make the advice unique in some way so that more people heed the advice and succeed in keeping their resolutions. But I ultimately come back to the advice that I know works when we take ourselves and our desires for change more seriously, so we walk our talk so to speak.
I’ve found three guiding principles that are easy to remember and quite easy to execute if kept conscious and actionable in our daily lives. So heeding the three R’s will work for you, also, if your resolutions are:
1) Reasonable, 2) Realistic and 3) Rewarding.
Your resolution(s) should be based on an attainable goal rather than wishful thinking and on a whim. They should be what you could reasonably and realistically achieve otherwise you’ll set yourself up to fail. Most of us set goals so that we can be rewarded by achieving them, so make sure the resolutions are going to pay off for you.
If one of your goals is to getter a greater sense of control over your money management in 2010, put systems in place in your daily life so that you have a sense of whether you are really achieving and will achieve that sense of control. Tracking money coming in and going out is just the beginning. Monitoring if you’re making the best use of your money will assure that this new system for achieving greater control actually becomes rewarding. If you don’t know what it is that you want your money to satisfy, it will never be able to bring you that sense of fulfillment. That’s where the “rewarding” factor comes in, so that you can sustain the new goal you set. Set up the goal for the new sense of money mastery and make it concrete and measurable so you know when you achieve it.
Most resolutions fail because old habits are tough to break and new ones hard to form without consistency, conscious effort and a sense of motivation to sustain this new behavior. An important part of maintaining our resolutions is being able to emotionally and financially support our goals and challenges. So, it’s not enough to focus on the finances. We must also focus on a plan to assure that our emotions don’t trip us up along the way. One way to do this is in keeping the actions required simple and small at first.
Small steps can lead to big gains if made consistently over time. Small steps are easier to make and easier to commit to in our already crowded lives. The small steps must be part of a strategy and plan, however that consistently lead to our desired payoff. They must be recorded somewhere so we are aware and responsible for following through. We want these small steps to become habitual and reflexive so they become a natural part of our lives. They have to fit into our schedule—putting them into the calendar with cues to remind ourselves that we must take action—will assure that they aren’t forgotten.
Rewarding ourselves for accomplishing these small steps will assure that our emotions cooperate and keep us on top of our game for change. So, remember small steps taken over time will lead to big gains. Now, let’s all get going and assure that we beat the statistics this year and keep our resolutions.