3 Steps Essential to Accomplishing Your Financial New Year's Resolution
By adhering to your money values, choosing a slight stretch goal, and tracking your progress you will be on the way to having your best financial year yet.
Hello and Happy New Year! It may not be exactly January 1, but why relegate the beginning of new positive financial behaviors to only one day of the year? And any day can be “New Year’s Day” when you think about it in terms of a new beginning.
That being said, I have been reading lots of articles and listening to people talk about New Year’s resolutions and how most people abandon them by February. This makes me sad (because I want you to succeed) so I want to discuss a tactic that will lead you to experiencing success in your financial New Year’s resolution. And when you do achieve that success, I want you to share it in the Comments section below. The Talking About Money Tribe wants to hear from you!
First, Make Sure That Your Goals Align with Your Values
As I say over and over again (do you not know me very well? As you get to know me your will hear me say this time and time again) the single most important thing that you can do with relation to your personal finances is to get clear on your unique values. Not the values of your family of origin, not the values of your friends and especially not the values espoused in advertising campaigns everywhere you look. They don’t even know you! I am talking about which values are most important to YOU and how you live YOUR life.
Once you get clear on your personal money values everything else will begin to fall into place, I promise.
Check out my blog post called What Are Your True Values? Take the Quiz!. In it you will find my Values and Spending Quiz – take a few minutes to complete it to help you identify your money values. From the results you will be able to determine which is the right financial resolution for you to focus on this year.
Second, Follow the Goldilocks Rule
I am a big fan of the writer James Clear (you can subscribe to his email newsletter here) and his writing on behavior change and habit formation. He writes about the “Goldilocks Rule,” that people experience peak motivation when they are working just at the edge of their current abilities.
In other words, the goal that you choose – in this case your financial New Year’s resolution – should not be too hard or you will quit right away. Nor should it be too easy or you will get bored and abandon it. The goal that you choose for yourself should be “just right,” as in it should cause you to stretch just a little bit but not so far that you ricochet back into your old way of doing things.
Third, Choose the Right Habit Tracker and Celebrate Your Small Successes
Now that you have identified your money values and have chosen a financial goal that is a slight stretch for you, you need to identify the right way to chart your progress.
James has another blog post where he goes into deeper detail on tracking behaviors that you intend on developing into habits (you can read it here).
The purpose of tracking is to shine a spotlight on what you are doing right and to give yourself the opportunity to celebrate each small win, so that you will have the motivation to keep going. I like to call this the Positive Feedback Loop:
You make a small amount of progress
You record it where you can view it later
You celebrate your progress
And over and over again.
But what is the best way to track your progress with your behaviors around money? I am glad that you asked!
The easiest way to track habits is with a calendar. Simply write a √ when you have achieved the behavior for the day (or for the week or for the month) and you are good to go. Here are a few sample behaviors to get you started but always remember and never forget: When you create a custom tracking method that works for you, you will be more likely to experience success.
Review your daily spending for how it aligns with your values
Avoid impulse purchases
Read any bill that arrives for accuracy and errors
Pay any bill that is due on or before its due date
Empty your pocket change into a coin jar for saving
Remember these three essential steps and you will be on your way toward transforming your financial life.