Personal Finance

Making a New Year’s Resolution Stick

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A week in, how’s your New Year’s resolution going? Did you make one? New Year’s resolutions give us a chance for a fresh start. It’s a way to turn the page and look hopefully toward the future. After all, we’re all going to be better versions of ourselves this year, if only we can stick to our resolutions . . . . (And if you didn’t make one, it’s still not too late — the year is young.)

Think About You

The first step in sticking to your New Year’s resolution is setting one. But don’t make the same resolution year after year without giving it a second thought. Re-assess your priorities and needs now so you can set a goal that is relevant to your current life, not the you five years ago. Set yourself up to be successful. Also, don’t jump on bandwagons. Saying you want to get healthy when you already eat well and exercise regularly isn’t really a resolution. Sure, you can aim to continue something you are already doing, but also think about changing something. What would make you a better person?

Say It Out Loud

Having a vague idea in your head and articulating it can make a big difference. Declare your resolution. Tell your friends, family or social network. This will keep you accountable and create a supportive group of motivators. If you are setting a goal to save more money but fear your penchant for dining out with friends will derail you, tell those friends. Initiate a brainstorming session for alternative methods of socializing you will all enjoy. Perhaps you can save enough by only going out for meals only at BYOB restaurants.

Have an End Goal

If you simply say you want to get healthy, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Be specific with your New Year’s resolution. Trying to lose weight? Aim for a set amount per month. But know how long it will take you to reach a specific target. If you will be happy to have lost 10 pounds by the start of summer, break that down to a pound or two a month. Even if you truly want to get healthy as opposed to lose weight, you can set a goal. If you want to be eating more vegetables, aim to be eating a side salad with dinner  five nights a week by the middle of February. That way you can ease into it. Or if you start right away, you know you’ll be a success if you are still doing it in mid-February.

Be Ready to Celebrate

Be ready to pat yourself on the back. This can be added incentive for keeping your New Year’s resolution. The reward doesn’t have to be large, but it has to be meaningful to you. If, in your effort to save money you are going to cut out frivolous shopping, set a timeline for when you can splurge a little. Perhaps you will allow yourself to buy one fun item at the end of every month you meet your savings goals. This can make your resolution stick around in the long term instead of fading away by February.

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Image: Marek Uliasz

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