We tend to think there’s something magical that happens when we enter a new year. “New” implies change and hope. Maybe this time I’ll really, really do things differently. I’ll clean off my desk, lose weight, eat better, return those phone calls, reconnect with friends, read that book, save more money, stop getting so angry, spend more time with the kids, and whatever else you can think of that needs changing!
Hope is high when we make those lists. Of course – this time – I’ll take care of all these life challenges. This year, it will be different. This year I will be different.
And somewhere inside, there’s that nagging voice that says, “What makes you think this year will be the magic charm?” And, if you follow your old patterns, that inner voice will be right. But it doesn’t have to be the way it always has been. You can make the changes that are important to you. And the good thing is that you don’t have to do this all at once.
- Resolutions are really just a promise to yourself to make some changes. But for that promise to become action, a little more is needed:
- Make your list. When that’s done, find a quiet spot, and take some time to look it over.
- Prioritize your list. Which item would be the easiest to accomplish? Make that #Which item is most important to you? Make that #2.
- If you still have more on your list, prioritize the other items in order of importance to you.
- And – now you can move on to making those resolutions “more than just a promise!”
For now, focus on resolutions 1 and 2. Put aside your other resolutions in an easy-to-find location.
Number one is the easiest, so let’s start there. Make a list of the tiny steps needed to accomplish this goal.
For instance, if you’d like to spend a few days with a good friend, but have been putting it off, these might be the steps you need to take: Call your friend; check your calendar for available dates; write up a very detailed to-do list; re-check daily until you’ve accomplished this goal. Contact your friend whenever you see a potential problem with the plan. Don’t just drop the idea, if it’s not working. Be sure to figure out another that would be equally wonderful!
Number two is the challenge, but once you’ve accomplished number one, it’s very likely you’ll be feeling motivated and hopeful. Taking care of the small stuff can be energizing!
Let’s say you’ve set a goal of saving more money. In the past you’ve tried to put aside whatever extra cash you have, but those unplanned-for expenses keep on coming……….. If you just leave it at that – trying again the same old way – this resolution is just a promise, not a plan. You need a plan. A plan that includes lots of little details (feels good to cross them off your list as you complete each one!).
Here’s a sample of what that money-saving plan could look like (each is a separate item on your list):
Make a list of what you’ll need for that appointment (check book, bank statements, calculator, pens, pencils, etc.). Include on that list whatever else you’ll need to keep focused: water, coffee, something to eat; anything that works to keep you on task.
On appointment day, spend some time getting a clear picture of your challenges. Write down all you learn about your finances, current income, planned expenditures.
Since this is an article about planning and resolutions, not about finances, I won’t go into more detail about that piece. But if you do need help, you might consider seeing a financial planner or getting a trusted friend/relative to plan with you. Consultation with others can make success more likely.
At the close of your appoinment (be sure you end on time!), leave with a plan for next time. And, hopefully, a plan that you can follow in order to save just a little more money than you’ve been saving.
Resolutions can work! Magic is possible! All you need to do is pay attention to the details and reward yourself for the little steps forward.
I wish you a happy and productive New Year, as you move toward achieving your goals for 2012!
If you’d like more information on how to make those resolutions come true, please give me a call at 310 475-1759
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