We have all made our New Year’s resolutions of self improvement in life, work, love, and finance. With a high probability, these self-imposed goals are a distant memory or on “tomorrow we start” to do list.
So how can we make this year different? We can start by understanding some very simple behavioral traits.
In order for anything to become second nature to humans, it must be repeated 16-21 times. Some studies show as high as 66 times for the action to become innate and automatic. The link between goals and habits, in simple English, take time. Goals guide habits by providing the initial outcome-orientated motivation for the repetitive action. Recognize this and be patient with yourself. If you have a lapse, start again immediately to regain momentum. Regardless, when shooting for the 50th floor and getting to the 20th floor, it’s better than not being in the building at all! Bad habits were not formed overnight, and they can’t be broken or changed overnight.
A goal is an objective that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve. I feel that this might be where the problem occurs for most people. A goal must be realistic, with a clear plan on how to get there. If you are 400 pounds and want to be a swim suit model by Christmas, it isn’t going to happen; it’s physically impossible. If you want to be a millionaire by Christmas, and work as a cashier in a bank with $759 in your savings account, short of robbing that bank you probably won’t hit your goal. When you set unrealistic goals, they become self-defeating and discourage you from pursuing these goals.
Financial: If your goal is to start to save and create a nest egg, a good starting place is 10% of all you make is yours to keep (sound familiar… Richest Man in Babylon?). I’m amazed at how many people, making good money of over $100,000, can’t seem to find a way to save ANYTHING. You must go back and look at what you are spending to identify problem areas. Do you really need that Starbucks every morning on the way to work, or can you bring coffee from home? Think about this: 50 weeks of work in a year x 5 days = 250 days. At $5 cup, that’s $1,250 in your savings! Once you can see these kinds of numbers, it becomes almost fun to find areas to conserve.
Health and Weight: Start with the simple equation, “calories in- less exercise.” You can tackle this on both ends by eating less and exercising more or just doing something simple as reducing portion sizes. It’s simple math. Remember! Health and weight go hand in hand.
Changing the way you do things is never easy. No one ever said it would be. The end result, if you decide that this is the year, could be life changing and rewarding more than the actual goal. I urge each and every one of you to know that you are not alone, that it can be done. “Baby steps” will get you further than you could ever imagine.