This article was updated on 31 December 2019.
The often used, and hence shudder-inducing, saying of “Rome wasn’t built in a day” carries with it another implicit lesson. For Rome to be built, there was a plan. There was a vision. It was a deliberate effort.
In fact, great accomplishments are seldom achieved by accident or without intention. Whether its Elon Musk wanting to build reusable rockets for space travel, or Joseph Schooling winning medals for Singapore, it all started with a goal, followed by tremendous efforts in the face of great hardship and challenges.
Most of us start the new year with some semblance of hope and optimism, which quickly fizzles out in the face of harsh realities faster than we can say “new year’s resolutions”.
Here are some of the reasons why we fail at keeping to our resolutions, and how we can do better in setting and keeping to our own promises to ourselves.
#1 Your Resolutions Aren’t Specific (Enough)
The problem with saying “I want to earn more money this year” is that while the end result is defined, the actions for doing so is not. Earning more money is vague and not actionable. The same goes for “I want to lose weight near year”.
Rather, it would be more helpful for yourself to think of how you want to achieve this. A more apt goal might be “I want to start a side hustle and spend at least four hours on it each weekend.” If your goal is to keep fit, a specific goal could be “I want to pick up a new sport and do it at least once a week”.
#2 You Aren’t Measuring
If the finish line isn’t defined clearly, then how do you know if you’ve reached it? It’s the same for your resolutions.
With a concrete, measurable target, like the amount of money you’d like to cut from your debt, or a percentage growth in your net worth, you will be able to track your progress and assess if your efforts so far have been effective.
In addition, seeing tangible results on a regular basis provides positive feedback that will help maintain your motivation and keep you going over the entire year.
#3 The Goals Set Were Unrealistic, And Thus Not Achievable
One common problem of goal-setting is that we’re overly ambitious, impatient and idealistic. Its easy to think that in the new year, everything will be different. Well, it won’t.
The challenges you faced this year in achieving some of the things you want to do will still be there, be it unexpected expenses, a hectic schedule and human weakness. You can and should have a plan and create the conditions that set you up for success, but setting unrealistic and unattainable targets will only serve to disappoint you and cause you to lose confidence in your ability to succeed.
You can always review your resolutions each month or quarter and once you’ve achieved some of the things you set out to do, you can always set new, bigger targets with your newfound boost in morale!
Read Also: 4 Reasons Why We Hate Financial Planning
#4 You Didn’t Find Your “Why”
Having a goal that is relevant to your life is important, in other words, defining your “why”. Making life changes isn’t easy, especially drastic ones. Finding your own motivations for doing so will give you the strength to not succumb to the path of least resistance.
Why do you want to accumulate more savings or start investing? Why do you want to take up a professional course in the evenings?
Perhaps you want to be a positive example to your kids in future? Or you want to be able to take your family on a long-awaited vacation? Maybe you want to prove to yourself that you have what it takes.
Defining your why will go a long way in aligning your resolutions with the realities of the day.
#5 Your Goals Weren’t Time-Bound
Having a timeframe by which to meet your goals is crucial. Depending on what the actual goal is, the time element in your resolution can be in the form of frequency (every day, weekly, monthly) or a deadline (achieving something by a specific date).
Having a timeframe also keeps you from being impatient.
If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.
Enough Planning, Let’s Get Started!
The famous American general Patton wrote: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Now that you’ve given your resolutions some thought, its time to execute.
Post your resolutions on your social media accounts so you can’t silently shove your resolutions under the pillow when the going gets tough. You could also find an “accountability buddy” to keep each other honest or meet up to work on your respective targets.
So, what do you want to accomplish for your professional and financial life next year? We’d like to hear from you on our Facebook page!
We hope you found this article useful in encouraging you to think about your own resolutions for 2020. Now let’s get started!
Listen to our podcast, where we have in-depth discussions on finance topics that matter to you.