Why you failed your New Year money resolutions

New Year resolutions are much easier said than done.  I recall Preet Banerjee’s latest book told us to Stop Over-Thinking Your Money but let’s face it, good habits are hard to create and bad habits are very hard to break.  For example, I’ve been trying to ride our exercise bike more since the new year but some nights other things get in the way, including using the lamest excuse of all:  I don’t have enough time.  I’ve got to be much more disciplined.  Here are some reasons why I think people fail with their New Year (money) resolutions.

  1. BIG changes should start small

Using my exercise bike as an example, do I have any hope in hell getting into better shape if I’m trying to ride my bike for long periods at a time – right out of gate?  Not likely.  I believe changes should start small; incremental and grow from there.  I suspect financial planners see people fail at their money resolutions all the time because they simply do start small enough and learn to build success, slowly.  Changes don’t happen overnight sounds very cliché but it’s true.  When it comes to our household, we’re making changes to our goals every year but we’ve also been working towards these goals for years – things like debt reduction, maxing out investment accounts, making some home improvements and taking more trips abroad.  Like many things in life I believe big changes can occur over time but you’ve got to start somewhere small first.

  1. Goals need more than hope

Without an end in mind you won’t get there.  I’ll go one step further and say without the right end in mind, you have just hope.  Reflecting upon my workplace for a moment, much like any business strategy, without goal setting and putting the appropriate support mechanisms in place luck usually dictates where you’ll end up.  Organizations like mine use management frameworks such as Balanced Scorecard to aggregate financial and non-financial measures to clarify the organization’s strategy, and link measures, targets and plans to their goals.  Such frameworks provide organizations with a roadmap for success.  Your household can be treated like a small organization too. In our house, we try and set some explicit goals every year.  Making our goals specific, realistic, and time-oriented give us a roadmap to realize them.  While goal setting is good there needs to be structure go along with them.  Setting goals and putting some framework around them never guarantees success but I think it puts the odds in your favour.

  1. Attitude is everything

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson.   I think this quote summarizes my thoughts on this nicely.  I’ve been guilty of beating myself up from time to time when it comes to “wouldas”, “couldas”, “shouldas” in life but I try to remind myself that life is about learning.  In 2016 I’m trying to avoid sweating the small stuff.  A little more optimism can go a long way.

To recap, think BIG; act small, put some structure around your goals, and stay positive.  New Year (money) resolutions can be made to be kept.

I find resolutions tough to keep, what about you?  How are you doing with your New Year money resolutions?

My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

11 Responses to "Why you failed your New Year money resolutions"

  1. I am doing pretty good with my resolutions so far, but I agree with your points. It is best to start small and form the good habits that will lead you down the path to success. Setting SMART goals will help you to keep a positive and upbeat attitude that they can be achieved. If you are making small and steady wins along the way, it is much easier to stay in the “game” and continue to struggle to reach your highest potential. The best part is when you hit your goals you feel great, and you can work to set the bar even higher for the next time!

  2. So far, we a re on track with our money goals.

    Health goals are disturbed by a bad knee… 🙁

    The idea to think big, act small is very applicable: think big: FIRE is the end goal, act small: save more than you earn

  3. Every year I resolve to not make any New Year’s resolutions. I still don’t know if that means I’ve been successful every year or failed every year!

  4. I don’t make New Years Resolutions.
    These are great points for those who, or for any goal setting for that matter.

    I think for your exercise situation you should consider 3 things.
    1. Make sure you’re doing an activity you like so its easier to stay with it – is it biking?
    2. Give yourself better reasons for doing physical exercise and staying in good shape. Write them down.
    3. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth. You probably don’t miss that due to time.

    I’m off to the gym now!!

    1. Thanks RBull. You strike me an individual who is goal oriented as well. I think the process of planning and re-planning is important – which brings me to my next post – today’s! Hope the gym was good.



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