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How to make New Year's resolutions that don't weigh you down

This year, more than ever, it seems there’s a real backlash against making New Year’s resolutions. It’s been a tough time of late, so the last thing we need is to put more pressure on ourselves when there are so many other things to worry about. It’s been hard enough just getting to 2022!

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And yet there’s also a great appetite for a reset, a fresh start so we can look ahead with confidence. What better way to make that happen than by resolving to commit to positive changes?

Here are some guidelines for how you can dial down the stress while still getting the benefits of resolutions.

Think small(ish)

Perhaps the main issue isn’t to do with the actual concept of resolutions, but the scope. It doesn’t have to take a grand, sweeping gesture to make the world a better place for yourself or those around you.

In James Clear’s bestseller, ‘Atomic Habits’, he talks about tiny changes bringing remarkable results. With one small improvement at a time, you can significantly enhance an outcome.

For a good example of this in practice, just look at saving. If you put away the price of a shop-bought coffee every day instead of heading to the local Pret, you’ll have over £1,000 at the end of the year (more than enough to invest in a decent coffee machine after all that filter coffee). You obviously don’t have to think this small. But if saving is your goal, you could aim for 5% of your monthly income and build up to more, rather than starting with a figure that will hit your lifestyle much harder.

Be realistic (and patient)

Most diets fail. Yes, it’s because chocolate is delicious, but it’s also because people set their expectations too high, too soon, and get disheartened when they don’t meet them. Perhaps that’s why around 80% of New Year’s resolutions are dropped by early February. Success is a fantastic motivator, but failure? Well, not so much.

You’ll know that when you invest sensibly, you’ll see more growth through compound interest as time goes on, but this doesn’t just apply to money. Habits, according to James Clear, are the compound interest of self-improvement. Drip feed a small behavioural change day by day, and over time you’ll see genuine results, whether it’s speaking better French, running an extra 5k or perfecting that homemade loaf. As your regular efforts become habits, they become easier too, making them ultimately much more achievable. Just try not to nurture the bad ones, as it works both ways.

Focus on the journey

When it comes to resolutions, the trick is not to get too hung up on goals and results. The journey is the key to reaching the destination. Every team wants to win the championship, but it’s how they train and ultimately play that will make it happen or not – not their desire to win.

Of course, it can be helpful to track your progress (realistic targets only, please), but when it takes time to get there and you hit a plateau, that can be demotivating. It’s only through a system of improvements – forming lasting good habits – that you’ll get where you want to be. It helps if you enjoy them too!

Let’s say you want to read more this year. Rather than committing to an aggressive target of X books per month, how about setting up a cosy corner that makes you want to read more often?

Get ready to adapt

Things don’t always go to plan, something we’re all too aware of after the couple of years we’ve just had. As well as things happening beyond our control, we’ll all make our own mistakes at times, lose willpower and veer off course. Don’t let this be a reason to stop your new good habits. Dust yourself off, remember why you’re doing it and get back on track as soon as you can. And if that original path is no longer relevant, don’t be afraid to adjust it.

Making 2022 your year

It’s helpful to think of making resolutions as an opportunity rather than an obligation, a framework for improvement rather than something you must begrudgingly do. While it may not be easy to embed better habits, it shouldn’t feel like a perpetual chore, or something that takes you away from the people, places or things that you love. Remember: the whole point is to improve your life, not make it worse!

If your goals are financial or include retiring early, we’re here to help you set the right plan and build the best habits to reach your destination. Contact us today to get started.

ANDREW MOORE

ANDREW MOORE

Financial Planner


Andrew is a Director of Goodmans Financial Planning and has worked within financial services for over ten years looking after businesses, business owners and personal clients.

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