The Truth Behind Getting Your Resolutions to Stick

Contributed by: Kali Hassinger Kali Hassinger

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions!  Typically, this is a point when we think about the big changes in store for next year.  It’s a fresh start.  Come January, gyms will be packed, diet commercials will be constant, and people will be committed to making the New Year better!  As the days roll on, however, it’s easy to lose focus and old habits tend to creep back into our lives.  Eventually, it’s difficult to remember the resolutions that you felt so passionately about a few months ago.  In some cases, it’s because we set unrealistic expectations.  Other times it’s because life gets too busy and it’s hard to remain motivated.

I know you may be expecting me to provide you with a list of suggested financial resolutions for 2016, but honestly I’m not sure that would really help you. Change isn’t as simple as writing a list or reading a blog.  Making a real change requires so much more effort, which is part of the reason why resolutions can be so easily forgotten after a few months.  There are so many pieces that go into our habits and behaviors in life, and in order to really enact change, we have to connect our goals to our actions, logic, resources, and emotions.

According to a quick Google search, here are the most common financial resolutions each year: 

  • Save More
  • Pay off Debt
  • Spend Less

These are very modest and sensible goals; however, these are the top 3 resolutions every year.  Keep in mind, if you are planning to include one of these three resolutions, they are great goals!  But try to be specific when establishing your plan for the New Year.  Instead of “Save more,” try saving an additional $100 each month and set it up to occur automatically.  Instead of “Pay off Debt,” try determining which credit card has the highest interest rate and target that first. I am absolutely not trying to suggest that resolutions aren’t worthwhile (I make them every year, too!).  I’m only suggesting that you ask yourself, “Why do I wait until January 1st to make my life better?”

Consider your motivation behind saving more and spending less.  It’s not because we just want to see a bigger number in our accounts.  Feeling financially secure enables us to enrich our lives with new experiences.  Instead of “Save More,” connect your savings’ goal to what it truly means – building toward a future, a trip, retirement, or whatever it is that is genuinely important to you. 

Instead of making a resolution, make a change that is:

  1. Attainable
  2. Sustainable
  3. Meaningful

If you find that you missed a monthly deposit into your savings account (or you skipped the gym for a week), don’t give up.  Life is unpredictable and our resolutions for change have to be adaptable and resilient.  Reconnect your resolution with what it means to you on a long-term and emotional level.  We don’t need January 1st to make a change, we just need resolve and determination (both are synonyms for resolution – see what I did there?!).  Have a happy and healthy 2016, everyone!

Kali Hassinger is a Registered Client Service Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Kali Hassinger and not necessarily those of Raymond James.