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5 Strategies for Sticking With Your Financial Resolutions

Friday, January 20, 2017   (0 Comments)
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USnews.com 01/20/17

 

If you're like many people who devised a resolution for the new year and dove into it with gusto, you're probably realizing right about now that the honeymoon period is over and the resolution isn't all it's cracked up to be. You may have even broken that resolution a time or two.

You're not alone. Resolutions are hard to uphold, especially ones that require you to change many of your daily habits and routines. Financial resolutions definitely fall into that category.

Now that the "honeymoon" is fading away, what exactly can you do to keep that financial resolution going? Here are five strategies for keeping your financial dreams afloat even when the newness of change has worn off.

Focus on today above all else. Any good resolution focuses on actionable steps that you can take today to define success. When you make a resolution, the farther out you set the timetable for success, the harder it becomes to succeed. You're much better off setting a small threshold for today, one that, if followed consistently, will eventually bring the big results you want.

What can you do today to move yourself toward that big financial goal? You can probably make better spending choices. You can probably also spend some time learning about personal finance. Make those your daily goals.

Turn daily goals into "streaks." One incredibly powerful tool for establishing a new daily ritual? Try turning it into a "streak" of such rituals. Mount a whiteboard in your home and write a brief three- to four-word description of the daily routine you're trying to establish. At the start of each day, take a good long look at that board. At the end of each day, if you succeeded at that daily routine, put an X after it. If you didn't, erase all of the Xs after it.

After you succeed for a few days in a row, you're going to notice a row of Xs after your goal building up, and you're going to be proud of yourself. Furthermore, you're really notgoing to want to erase that row of Xs. Seeing that row of Xs each morning will strongly motivate you to succeed today ... and the next day.

Actively seek new avenues for pleasure and joy. Many financial resolutions are centered around cutting back on spending, which can often mean cutting out things in your life that you find fun and enjoyable. When you do things that trim away the fun, you often find yourself resenting those changes, and when you're feeling resentful, you're often primed to throw away those changes entirely.

Put those feelings in check by finding new avenues for fun and joy. Make a daily commitment – perhaps a new streak – to either trying something new that's inexpensive (perhaps by checking meetup.com or your community's website) or by giving real focused time to a passion you already have, say, by blocking off an hour for reading a book you're excited about. Give your life plenty of fresh soil upon which happiness can grow and you'll find that you don't need to spend to bring joy.

Consciously seek friendships with financially responsible people. If you look at the people in your life, you can likely figure out pretty quickly which ones make financially responsible choices. They're not the ones driving the $50,000 cars or dressing in expensive clothes or constantly having the newest smartphone. They're the people driving the modest cars and dressing reasonably. They're the people who bring their lunch to work many days and don't seem to say much when people talk about the things they've bought.

Actively seek out friendships with those people. Make an effort to eat a meal with them. If they bring a brown-bag lunch, do that yourself. Invite them over for dinner. Discover the things they enjoy doing and give them a try, even if you've never dabbled in those activities before. You might just find a new friend or two along the way. Remember, as the late business philosopher Jim Rohn once said: You are the average of your five closest friends.

Keep your big goals close to your heart. While you shouldn't obsess over the steps needed to get there and you should focus your actions on daily goals, it's really the big goals that are the inspirational ones. You're not going to be inspired by a grocery list; you're going to be inspired by the idea of debt freedom or by the house you want or by an abundant retirement.

Keep those visions front and center. Put reminders of them everywhere. Tape one to the bottom of your rear view mirror. Set a picture of your goal as the lock screen on your phone. Have your phone give you a reminder of that goal multiple times a day. Do whatever it takes to keep that exciting life-affirming big goal front and center, because it will make all of the little steps much easier.

Apply these strategies to your flagging resolution and you just might find more success than you thought possible!


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