The New Year’s resolutions process starts with good intentions, an honest assessment of how things are now, and then a visualization of what you want your new life to look like. The next step is usually action – going to the gym, starting a diet, limiting alcohol, whatever your goal is, the first few weeks and months of the year are when the desire begins to go beyond intentions and starts to be implemented in your life.
But for many people, before you can get rolling, the reality of your existing life takes over again. Let’s look at some stats1:
- 23% of people that make New Year’s resolutions quit by the end of the first week
- Most people quit by the second Friday of the month (called “Quitter’s Day)
The Monday after the second Friday is called “Blue Monday” for a reason – debt, weather, time after the holiday, and failure to make progress on resolutions combine to make it supposedly one of the most depressing days of the year.
How can you harness the new year’s energy to bring your goals closer? We have some ideas.
Break Your Goals Down by Type – and Assign Resources to Them
The great thing about setting goals is that progress in any one area tends to spill over and make everything better. But at the core, most goals can be categorized by one of three things:
- Personal: These affect your habits, your fitness, your personality, etc. In short, you set them to improve yourself. These are usually immediately gratifying, but when you keep them up, they have long-term benefits
- Meaningful: These are usually longer term and may be something you do with a partner or family. Dreams big and small, plans like travel, second home, education, switching jobs, or work optional flexibility are in this category
- Practical and Tactical: These are things you need to do to make meaningful stuff happen in your life. These are career or business goals, financial goals, risk management, etc.
Once you’ve identified your goals, the easiest way to make progress is to enlist some support. Build a team around your goals that can bring you what you need. This might be consistent and regular, or it might be a one-time thing or have a limited duration. The key is to know that there are resources you can tap into that will get you on track and keep you there.
Creating lasting change benefits from two types of support: accountability and expertise. Having someone (or something) help us stay motivated, solve roadblocks and cheer on our most minor achievements can provide the coaching and reinforcement needed to succeed.
Personal Goals: Technology-Enhanced Accountability and Expertise
Back to those New Year’s resolutions: the problem is that they are usually dependent on consistent behavior changes. They generally aren’t quick projects. Instead, they involve ongoing discipline, modifying behavior, and learning new skills as the situation evolves.
In this post-pandemic, tech-evolved moment, two major advances are available to offer regular, consistent coaching and to take on some of the hard work and tedium of behavior modification.
On the human front, Zoom coaching is available for just about everything, and it’s both affordable and convenient. You can choose from on-demand coaching or schedule everything from yoga to therapy, either one-on-one or in a group setting.
On the tech front, apps have evolved to use AI to create a personalized, targeted experience that can be put to work to lose weight, cut down on alcohol, assist with budgeting, work out consistently, etc. The bots are almost unsettlingly good now – but all that really matters is that you get follow-up and some tracking ability so that if you aren’t checking in, the app will reach out and remind you.
Adding Meaningfulness to Life: Involve Others in Your Goal Setting
You can do this with your partner, family, or close friends. The idea is to create a convivial setting that allows for deep thinking.
So dedicate some time, choose a space with positive feelings around it, and get comfortable.
Then start with some questions:
- What do you want to accomplish this year?
- Fast forward five years: What do you most want to say you’ve done
- Look back five years: What do you wish you had done? Hadn’t done?
- What’s your “enough?”
Those are just samples; there are innumerable examples online, and you can find ones that resonate. But before the conversation gets going, either appoint one person to capture everything on a whiteboard or split up the duties. When you’re done, you want everyone to have a list of what’s important to them and a timeline. You’ll be surprised at the way talking about goals with others can make them feel tangible – and you may find shared goals or sources of support you hadn’t thought of.
Getting Practical and Tactical: Build Your Team
Getting a plan in place starts with you, but getting it over the finish line often requires professional resources. Because most of your goals are rooted in finances and career, starting to build a life team with financial expertise makes sense.
The model for financial advisors now reflects the two biggest priorities most people articulate, specialization and customization.
They want to work with someone that understands them, their life, and their challenges. Financial advisory has evolved to be very niche-focused, and that’s a good thing. No matter what stage you are at, you can likely find someone that specializes in “you.” Here’s a short list:
- Early career professional making your first money but also paying down school debt
- In the deep middle of your career, where you’re piling up successes and responsibilities, and you want to get it right
- Are at a point where flexibility is the most important thing
- Need to pay for college
- Have equity compensation
- Are planning an active retirement
- Are building a business – or planning to sell your business
There are many more, and you won’t have trouble finding someone that understands the nuance of what you need. They also are able to bring broad-spectrum expertise and to prepare you for the next stage.
When it comes to how you want to work with them, the fee-only model for financial advice puts you first. It allows you and the advisor to be on the same side of the table and to customize the advice you get.
The Bottom Line
Making resolutions is a great first step, but getting the resources to carry them through and make them have a lasting impact is the key to setting yourself up for a successful 2023.
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