New Year’s Resolutions and why you should make them!
By Michael Gaffney
Your hairdresser, friends, and everyone on social media will be mocking New Year’s resolutions in the next few days. My advice, smile and make them anyway, just be sure your goals are reasonable and attainable.
New Year’s Eve is a time for some reflection and planning. A time to assess and reflect on 2017 and look ahead to 2018. We tend to be so busy everyday with such important “stuff” that we lose sight of who we are and where we want to be in life. I quoted “stuff” as the things that take us away from ourselves so often are generally trivial items of little consequence that just eat away our days, weeks, months, and years.
New Year’s Eve is a great opportunity to look back for a bit on your accomplishments and on your set-backs. But, never, ever look back too much. If you did the best you could then accept it. If you could do better, resolve to do so in the future. Reminiscing about the often wild stories that a life well lived provides is a wonderful endeavor with friends and family. Sometimes, the worst stories end up being the most entertaining. However, it is the present and the future that makes the difference in life.
The most boring speeches are replete with past accomplishments. Unless it is a job interview, most people want to hear about the now and tomorrow. Try talking about how awesome you were in high school at a party and watch the room empty out.
Looking ahead to 2018, try make some decisions on how you want to end the year and have a plan.
The often most picked on resolutions are about money and losing weight, but they are the most important resolutions out there. The problem is, a goal without a plan isn’t a goal, it’s a dream.
So, let’s look at some ways to get us to make resolutions that matter. Instead of “I resolve to lose weight this year”, how about “I resolve to feel better about myself and the way I look by the end of this year?” And with that resolution make a list of ways to achieve your goal:
- I will stop snacking after 9pm.
- I will eat healthier, less fatty foods.
- I will work out by starting off slow. Maybe walking a few miles until I get myself up to five miles every other day.
- I might join a gym after I’ve committed to a better diet and have started an exercise program at home. But, there are so many exercises I can do at home with a simple Google search, I’m not going to run out and spend money on membership and equipment.
- I will go shopping for new clothes that make me look and feel good. I haven’t bought new clothes in a while. And, I’ll bring a friend that will be helpful in choosing a few new outfits.
- I will get my hair and nails done when I have the chance. Maybe get a color or even a wax. (A little color over the gray takes years off for men and women. And guys, waxing that hairy back might help your relationship.)
- I will purchase reasonably price beauty products or even see a professional on how to take care of my skin or put on makeup.
- I will be more conscious about standing up straight as posture reflects confidence and can improve the way I look and feel.
It is far from a comprehensive list, but having a list that sets a tone from the beginning that you will be reasonable with yourself is more likely to succeed than one that just throws down a spoonful of tough love.
Oh, you were thinking 2018 was the year that you would “resolve to make more money.”
It is quite possible to make more money, but unless you are going to pick up a part-time job or have been slacking at a job that pays on commissions, it isn’t a short term goal. But, resolving to make more money by working harder and getting a promotion or a little bit more money in a salary increase should be a yearly goal anyway. If your yearly salary increase is only keeping up with inflation, you really need to reassess your career goals and find a way to move forward. Watch out for the education trap as spending money on a further degree can be as costly as the new position. Check out the skills building programs at your local trade school or other alternatives. But, throw out the failed notion that you just need to “work smarter, not harder.” It has merit, but is often used as an excuse for laziness. “I am a firm believer in luck, the harder I work, the more I have of it” Thomas Jefferson.
Instead of “I resolve to make more money”, try “I resolve to be in a better financial position at the end of this year.” Some ideas:
- Plan out your expense payments, to include debt, for several months in advance. Do this weekly. Take a piece of paper and write down your bills and pay checks. It is a great exercise that lets you see what you have, plan your payments, and see what you can spend on enjoying life.
- Spend money on things that make you happy as long as they aren’t breaking your budget. Every financial guru wants you to stop doing everything you enjoy and save it. May as well be a prison sentence. Why bother living if you’ve made life so completely unenjoyable?
- If it is a major purchase, resolve to kick the tires for a bit. I once considered buying a boat. We went to several boat shows and dealerships over the course of nearly a year. By the time I was ready to purchase it, I had imagined sitting on the boat, forgoing other activities, because I had to justify the payments, storage, transport, etc., for the boat. I could almost feel the stress that it would cause. I’ve lived the boating lifestyle without the expense.
- Pay off debt. Saving money is great. I’ve seen plenty of people with $50k in retirement savings and $50k of debt. Debt costs so much to maintain. Reduce and eliminate it. Your credit score will increase, and ironically, it will cost you less for the big purchases such as car loans and mortgages.
- Be conservative. I’m not talking about fighting for a fair tax system and holding moral standards of conduct. Being conservative is spending your money wisely. Don’t go to the supermarket when hungry. Don’t go shopping when depressed. And make sure the item you are purchasing fits or is exactly what you want.
Any resolution you make should be something that is attainable, somewhat measurable to you, and backed up with some idea of how to achieve it. So when 2019 comes along, you can look back at 2018 and laugh at the set-backs, but have a sense of pride that it was your year, because you decided to make it so. You made resolutions that fit your ability and desire.
Go ahead, make your resolutions!
Happy New Year!
P.S. If you’ve had a bad year on the dating scene and want to devote 2018 to finding Mr. or Ms. Right, set your goals above what you think you can achieve. Chances are you aren’t giving yourself the credit you deserve and some nice man or woman out there is dreaming about finding you. Don’t leave them with some loser! Keep in mind that the chances of finding the love of your life on Tinder or at a bar, within 10 miles of where you live, are pretty slim. There a billions of people in this world. Get out there! Mr. or Ms. Right isn’t going to come and knock on your door.