Q. I thought I was going to get control of my money and make a lot of other positive changes in my life in 2021, but very few of the things I wanted to accomplish happened. I started strong, and began with serious intentions, but somewhere along the way I lost focus. Can you give me some advice for making and sticking to my resolutions in 2022?
A. It seems everyone comes up with a laundry list of New Year’s resolutions, but research shows very few people actually achieve their goals. If you’re ready — and I mean really ready — to reset your life and succeed with your New Year’s resolutions, here are a few simple, proven steps that’ll help.
First, write down your top goal. Pick the resolution that means the most to you and write it down. You’re more likely to succeed if you can focus on a single goal, and you have a greater chance of achieving it if you write it down — on paper, on purpose. And make sure the resolution you choose is very important to you. Writing down a goal just because it’s what someone else is doing, or because it sounds like a good idea, isn’t good enough. If your goal isn’t yours, it won’t happen.
Second, set benchmarks. Let’s say you want to pay off your credit cards before July. You need to make that goal measurable throughout the year by setting benchmarks. If you owe $5,000 on your credit cards and want to pay them off in six months, you need to pay about $833 towards them every month. Write your benchmark down beneath your goal, and make a plan for how you’re going to get it done.
Three, find an accountability partner. A great accountability partner isn’t afraid to ask how your goals are coming along, and they’ll call you on it when you’re slacking. If you set a financial goal, a good accountability partner isn’t going to be the friend who always asks you to go shopping. Studies have shown that having a strong accountability partner increases the likelihood of achieving a goal dramatically.
And finally, make sure you reward yourself along the way. It’s tough to stay motivated when hitting your goal takes a while. You might treat yourself to a night at the movies when you’ve paid off the first $1,000 on your credit cards, or maybe a nice, new shirt when you’ve paid off half the card.
Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we think it will. Our priorities can change, and our goals may change, too. If that’s why you didn’t make your resolutions happen this year, that’s fine. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s too late to change and improve your life!