New Year Resolutions? No Thanks

Apparently, the most popular New Year Resolutions are 1. Exercise more….. 2. Lose weight…. 3. Get organised…..*yawn* bored already. No wonder most people don’t stick with their own resolutions.

I get the sentiment of it all and I actually like setting goals and creating plans to achieve them. But I don’t think I have the self-discipline just to ‘resolve’ to do something different and then actually do it. Do you?

Surely, it’s more fun to try something new that’s in line with our values. And that could be something that other people don’t necessarily expect of us.

Rather than creating a list of resolutions, which deep down we know will not last – maybe we should simply choose something a little bit different to try this year. Something that’s enjoyable and sparks a bit of fun inside us.

To be fair, it’s unlikely that we’d consciously choose something that’s bad for us or other people, so whatever it is, chances are it will be a positive step, however small.

Then what?

Avoid Negative Goals

A lot of folk will say they want to work less hours, eat less, drink less and so on. But avoidance-based changes are emotionally unattractive, so it’s hard to focus on them.

Instead, we should re-frame what we want in a positive way. So, if it’s about working less hours, what would be the benefit? More time with family, more exercise time or just more chilling out with chunks of the week dedicated for doing absolutely nothing – make the benefits the goal and focus on the good stuff.

If it’s about drinking less wine on a Friday night after a tough week at work, what would that achieve? Is there something more to enjoy about a Saturday morning without the fuzzy head of a hangover? Let’s plan something motivational with the extra time and energy it would create.

Make it Visible

Whatever we’re aiming to do differently, it’s best to write it down somewhere, or even better, draw or download an inspiring picture and keep it visible.

Let’s use Post It notes on the fridge, change screen saver images, find an app like Stickk for our mobile devices to send reminders and keep any change at the forefront of our minds.

Remember that developing a new habit can take at least 90 days. Changing an existing habit can take twice as long, so we almost need to expect our motivation to fall away at some point and mentally prepare for at least 3 months of effort.

Tell Others

If a tree falls in a forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Accountability can hugely increase our chances of doing what we say we’ll do. So write down what’s to change, tell friends and colleagues, put it on Facebook. The odd doubter might grumble a bit, but most folk will cheer us on.

Don’t break the Chain

Snapchat has a well-known feature of ’Streaks’ where two friends message each other for 3 consecutive days. This creates a ‘don’t break the chain’ incentive to keep on messaging each other every day and, of course, using the app.

Similar incentives are used by many online games that encourage us to log in each day for rewards. Any CandyCrush addicts out there?

We can use the same idea to create a ‘streak’ of behaviours or good habits that we want to develop. It can be as simple as crossing off the calendar on your kitchen wall, or maybe an easy-to-use app for your phone like this…


Since I’m writing this as a financial coach, I recommend that we all make regular time to invest in our financial wellbeing. A weekly slot of 30 minutes to learn something new or to review our spending or investments can work wonders, especially as that knowledge and understanding accumulates and compounds over time.

And what about me? If I’m not setting any New Year Resolutions, what new thing will I try this year?

I’m going to learn to play the banjo! There, I’ve said it in public. So now I’ll need to do something about it, despite the objections and ridicule of my lovely wife!

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