How are You Doing on Your New Year’s Resolutions?

While working with Laura Bereiter, the Director of Tax and Financial Planning here at White Oaks, she assigned the interns the task of writing summer goals. Through this process, it made me reflect on my New Year’s resolutions. Often times, we make annual goals but set ourselves to fail because if we are honest, it is difficult to follow a generic plan for 365 days. For 2019, I had three resolutions: (1) Don’t drink soda (or as Minnesotans say, “pop”), (2) Exercise at least five times a week, (3) Save money for my family vacation. Now that it is July, I want to analyze how I am doing with regards to my resolutions. I am drinking soda, exercising infrequently, and have not been saving money for my family vacation. For resolutions to be effective, there are steps that should be taken that help hold us accountable.

Transform Your Resolutions to SMART Goals.

In the Personal Financial Planning Program at Texas Tech University, my professors give students the task of creating SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. SMART goals provide a way to calculate the action and progress of a goal. My previously stated goal to “save money for my family vacation” transforms to, “Each day of the year, I will set aside $5 that will go towards my family vacation. Rather than purchasing a cup of coffee, I will save that money. By January 1, 2020, I will have accumulated $1825.”  When creating SMART goals, it is best to keep a precise schedule and analyze progress at the end of each day or week. At the end of week one, I should have $35 saved. My new, detailed goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. SMART goals enable us to reflect upon our performance and search for opportunities for improvement. From my own experience, I believe New Year’s resolutions produce unreasonable guidelines for people. SMART goals, however, can be written at any point of the year and provide direction.

You Don’t Have to Wait for New Year’s to Create Resolutions.

According to Society for Personality and Social Psychology, it can take from 15 to 250 days to create or break a habit. Habits are created from repetition and consistency, so they take time to become a part of everyday routines. When creating a new goal or task, it is important to understand that it is okay to fail. One week, your schedule may be chaotic and ruin your plans. You may fall short of a goal, but that is an opportunity to learn and grow. If you have been like me and struggling to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions, rewrite your goals and create an action plan. I have not been saving $5 each day for the past six months, but that does not mean I have to wait until January 1 of next year to attempt my savings goal. As you create resolutions, track your progress, learn from your mistakes, and know that you do not have to wait until January 1st to set SMART goals. Right now, ask yourself what you would like to accomplish, and write down your SMART goal. Be intentional about that goal and review it often.

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