Avoid New Year’s Resolutions

Hi, my name is SavvyJames and I used to make New Year’s resolutions. [Inaudible chatter and a collective, “Hi, SavvyJames,” is heard in the background]. It has been two years since I made a resolution.

You know, particularly as it relates to diet and exercise, I often hear people say that they will get serious and start meeting their stated goals ‘next Monday.’ I can relate; that used to be me. Even though I was guilty, I often wondered why – if someone was serious about making changes in their life – would they want to wait until the next Monday? And why is it always a Monday anyway?

If they honestly believe that changes need to be made, and the things they are doing – or are failing to do – will not help them reach their goals, why would they choose to do them for a few more days? Yep, these cigarettes are killing me, but I want to finish this pack before I stop damaging my lungs. Yep, I could choose to have a fresh fruit and vegetable smoothie this morning instead of a soda, but I really hate to see the last of that six-pack go to waste.

When you consider the impacts of compound interest, waiting is absolutely detrimental to meeting your financial goals. During the period in which I kicked the habit, I have come to realize that ‘starting next Monday’ and resolutions are really just ways of putting off what should be done today until some tomorrow in the future. The keys to success? First, starting today – right after you finish reading this – establish a long-term plan supported by short-term goals.

Second, focus on the progress and not the occasional slip-up. Instead of throwing in the towel the first time you miss a workout, eat a candy bar or buy a new phone – that you really don’t need – instead of contributing to your IRA, recognize the error in your ways, refocus and keep working toward your next short-term goal.

Ultimately, waiting until ‘next Monday’ or creating New Year’s resolutions is just a way of playing mind games with yourself; you are establishing a false sense of hope. The idea that you will be more motivated, more focused and more apt to achieve a goal … if you simply wait until some point in the near future to start, vice right now, is silly when you think about it. Now’s the time, the time is now.

James
 

James retired in 2005 after serving 21 years in the United States Army. During the latter part of his career, James' interest in personal finance was piqued based on his own experiences and observations of the way most Americans plan – or more accurately, fail to plan – for retirement and the difficulty many face in starting the process. His most valued education has been lessons learned from personal experience and through conversations with smart, savvy friends.

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