Are you one of the 48% of the population who actually made a New Year’s resolution? If you are, less than 10% of you will actually be successful. Don't take it personal, it is just a fact! If you did take it personal, get mad and do something about it! No matter if your goal is to lose some weight, get into better physical shape or being better with your money, I will tell you how to accomplish any of those goals using the following five steps.
STEP 1: DO Something
The key word is DO! You are probably thinking that it doesn’t take a rocket
scientist to come to that conclusion but the truth is that it is impossible to
change what is going on in your life without doing something. Do is an ACTION verb so the first steps is to TAKE ACTION. I like to remind people that the
hardest step is the first step! Many personal trainers tell their clients that the hardest weight to push when you want to get into shape is the front door to the gym. If you want to get out of debt or start saving money it is as easy as
quit using your credit cards and start depositing part of your paycheck into
savings! DO something by keeping a commitment to yourself, and the toughest
part will be behind you.
STEP 2: Set Your Goals
Use the acronym (ACS) ACHIEVABLE, CHALLENGING, and SPECIFIC when setting your goals. If your goals are not achievable because you set them too high you will quickly become discouraged and eventually quit, but if you don’t make your goals challenging, you won’t see any REAL change. Finally, your goals need to be specific. Don’t say your goal is to lose weight or to build up your savings. A better goal would be to lose 1-2 pounds weekly, 5 pounds in a month and by six months you want to have lost 30 lbs. Don’t say you want to have more money in the bank to be in better financial shape. A better goal would be to put away at least $25 a week, $100 a month and within six months, you want to have $600 in savings.
STEP 3: Make a Plan and Write It Down
To make a plan, you will want to conduct a preliminary assessment. You have to KNOW where you are STARTING FROM to get to where YOU WANT TO BE. If your
goal is to be able to complete a 5k run in a race that is 3 months away in less
than an hour, how far and how fast can you run now? If your goal is to build your savings to $1,500 by year end, how much do you have in savings and how much are you saving now? Once you have conducted that preliminary assessment write it down. It might not be pleasant but use your results as motivation instead of discouragement. Your next step is to develop a strategy to get you from your preliminary assessment to your ultimate goal. It is the “How” part of what you will have to DO. Put what you are going to DO in WRITING! A key point to always remember is that your plan needs to be flexible because there are going to be times when you might get a little off track. Don’t let getting off track be your excuse to QUIT! Deal with it, make any necessary adjustments, and get back on your plan. I can’t stress this enough… PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING! There are several studies that show that people who write their plans down have a higher probability of achieving their goals than those who don’t.
STEP 4: Select an Accountability Partner
You will increase your odds for success simply by selecting someone who will keep you accountable for your decisions. I am not recommending a personal trainer or for you to hire a financial professional, but only that you need to have someone that can help you stay on track with your goals. Pick a friend or a family member with a positive attitude who will provide you with positive reinforcement and who will also kick you in the butt when you really need it. Maintain a journal where you are recording your progress. It could as simple as writing down on a piece of
paper what you are eating at each meal, how much you are exercising each day,
or writing down where, what and how much you are spending your money. Each week you want to meet with your partner and show them your progress. Knowing that you have to show someone your meal journal might make the difference in choosing between eating an entire pizza or a salad with reduced fat dressing.
STEP 5: Control Your Emotions
Getting into shape, whether it is better physical shape or better fiscal shape, will
require you to control your emotions. Many people associate change with
pain. Change doesn’t have to be as painful if you can focus on the future prize instead of the present sacrifice. To lose weight will require a little pain. That means you have to exercise more and eat less! The same principle is in action when you make purchases. A $4.00 coffee beverage doesn’t sound extravagant, but if you purchase one every day you can rack up a monthly $120 coffee bill. Embrace change and don’t allow your emotions to focus on the pain you have to go through now, but how good you will feel when you accomplish your goals!
Are you going to be one of the 90% that will not reach their 2013 goals? Things will not change for the better until you want them to change and until you DO SOMETHING about it. Set your goals high but keep them realistic and specific. Put your plans in writing and pick someone who can help keep you accountable. Don’t allow your emotions to derail you when you get off track but accept the pain you will have to go through in order for you to achieve your goals, and finally make 2013 the year that you finally keep your New Year’s Resolution!
Steve Repak, CFP® is the author of Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic
Training For Your Money www.DollarsAndUncommonSense.com