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The Money Doctor: Keeping new year's resolutions in 2022

Money Doctor is a column written by Unividual's Cherie-Anne Baxter in Bristol Life Magazine. This edition she focuses on how to plan for a new year. New year, new you right? Do you set New Year's resolutions knowing you'll break them in days? Find out the secret to objective setting so you can actually achieve.

Read: Ultimate Guide To Investing & Saving

The problem with New Year's Resolutions

We all do it, set New Year’s resolutions, whilst deep-down we know we are going to break them within days of January starting. Do you also feel like you just don’t have the motivation to stick to good health habits let alone money ones too? You are not alone, find out why we have that “new year, new you” feeling as we share some secrets to setting good objectives, how to build positive habits and ways you can train your brain to do what is right for you.

Start as you mean to go on

At the begining of every new year millions of people resolve to “change”. There is something about a fresh start which gives us impetus to grow as a person. This temporary landmark motivates aspirational behaviours but can lead to many of us biting off more than we can chew. Loose goals like saving for retirement or paying off ALL your debt are ambiguous. They require enormous will-power because unrealistic goals become unachievable. The first stage of planning is knowing how to make sound objectives. Our financial planners use a timeless objective setting theory called “SMART”. For objectives to be effective they should be:

  • SPECIFIC: Make your objectives specific by asking who, what, why, when and where.
  • MEASURABLE: How can you measure whether you have achieved your objective or the milestones you reach along the way to your overall goals.
  • ACHIEVABLE: Are there factors beyond your control which could impact on whether you could achieve this objective? If so, how can you plan around them. Do all the people impacted by the objective buy in to it and agree to the objective, for example family members or your partner?
  • REALISTIC: Can you actually meet the goals of this objective, do you have the ability and skills to realistically achieve it.
  • TIME-BOUND: Set a date or time frame of when you would like to achieve the objective. this will help you effectively plan and break your objective down in to bitesize chunks.

If you aren’t experienced at working towards goals start by building good habits around your plan and use a habit tracker to plot your progress, this will create an achiever’s mindset.

Make the time to achieve

We spend our lives juggling work, business, family, people we take care of, hobbies, wellbeing, chores – let’s face it if you want to accomplish a goal you must allocate time to achieving your goals otherwise other commitments get prioritised. If your aim is to run a Half Marathon, schedule training and think about how to be disciplined around prioritising training. Or if you are wanting to improve your financial position diarise time every month to do the work towards it, like negotiating service providers, researching ways to cut costs, liaising with product providers, researching savings and investment options or planning for retirement.

Learn from previous mistakes

Do you find yourself setting the same goals every year, only to break them after a short time? If you have already tried something and failed, the doubt creeps in. Write down or think about what prevented you from achieving last year’s resolutions. Start the year with a goal that is unique and different like learning to play a new instrument or saving for a special trip. Once you get success from your goal setting you will then learn how and what works so that when you set goals in the future you have the secret sauce to achieve them.

Small steps every day balance motivation & rationale

When it comes to objective setting, we get clients to dream big, think small and act even smaller. This balances motivating yourself with acting rationally. If you day-dream about your vision without implementing small, daily changes you won’t get anywhere. On the flip-side if you focus on short-term stepping stones with no idea of where you are going, you feel like you’re progressing but have no idea why. This is common with savers, putting money aside every month in the bank until they know they might need it one day nearer retirement. It isn’t until we get them to dream big they get focus on the WHY and we can then make sure the way they are saving is efficient and can get the most return.

If it feels like you’re plodding along in life without a clue, it doesn’t cost as much as you think to get some focus on your big dreams & the tiny steps you need to take to achieve them. Get in touch with one of our financial planners today for a free initial, first meeting.

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Author & Editor: Cherie-Anne Baxter

Date: 20th December 2021

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