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2014: How Will Your Resolutions Help You Live Differently?

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Happy New Year

As we near the end of 2013, it’s getting to be that time again for making New Year’s resolutions. People around the globe will be pondering, making and yet rarely keeping their New Year’s resolutions.  Being an analytical type of person, I always do two things when making my New Year’s resolutions:

1.  I try and make resolutions that are of high importance to me, to minimize my chance of failure.

2.  I try to analyze the reasons why people might fail at their resolutions, and how I can maximize my chances of success at keeping my own resolutions.

I hate failure.  Can you tell?  It bugs the crap out of me.  Not regarding you, of course – just my own failures.  So because of that, I always ponder my New Year’s resolutions very carefully, picking the ones that, if they succeed, will make the most impact on my life, and picking ones that I know I can do without pulling my hair out or beating myself up in the process.

In other words, I work to plan my resolutions based on the ones with the most impact and with the highest chance of success.

The other tip I use in planning my resolutions is that I always make sure to not pick a number or a type of resolution that is going to overwhelm me from a psychological, time or workload standpoint.  I challenge myself, yet not in a way that’s going to send me into nervous breakdown status.

For instance, in 2013, I knew we had to make a change and start our get out of debt journey.  I also knew that this would be quite the challenge for our family, in that we’d never before worked on a budget, spend-tracked or limited our spending.

Because I knew that this would be hard, starting our get out of debt journey was the ONLY New Year’s resolution I made last year.  And we succeeded.

So how can you make sure to pick the New Year’s resolutions that are best for you and that you have the highest chance of succeeding at?

Decide Carefully

 

Most of us have a rather long list of things that we’d like to change about ourselves and our lives.  I could name ten things off the top of my head right now, and you probably can too.  But since we’re going for the highest success rate here, it’s important that you think carefully about what on your list of resolutions is most important, and most meaningful, for you and/or your family.

For us in 2013, we knew that we were in a dangerous situation with our debt load that could easily cause very serious problems in a very short time if something like a job layoff or an injury happened.  Given the magnitude of our debt situation, we deemed this as THE single most important resolution we could choose at that time.

Maybe for you it’s not your debt load, but maybe you’ve got a high stress job that you hate, and you know you’re not going to be able to handle it very much longer.  This might be a great year to make a resolution to maximize your savings accounts so that you’ve got some choices when you know it’s time to leave your job.

Or maybe you’ve got some serious weight or health issues that can be changed by eating healthier and starting an exercise program, and you want to be able to be around for your family, so you decide that this year is the year that you will get healthier.

Both of these are important, yet challenging, resolutions.  Now is the time to consider carefully which resolutions will have the most positive impact on your life, and to decide whether or not you’re ready for the work involved with keeping those resolutions.

Make a Plan for Your Resolutions

 

Now that you’ve picked the resolution(s) that are most important to you, it’s time to decide on a doable plan that will give you the highest chance of success.  If your goal is to get healthier, don’t decide on a 5:00 a.m. before work exercise routine when you’re not a morning person.  If your goal is to reduce debt, figure out what expenses you can reduce without going crazy, and keep the ones you know will help you deal with the other sacrifices.  Maybe you can go without eating out, but you know you’ll go crazy if you have to give up your sports channels.

Don’t set yourself up for failure; make a plan works for you, even if it might mean it’ll take you longer to achieve your goal.

Adjust Accordingly

 

Over the past twelve months, we’ve often tweaked, adjusted and changed our plan and our path to debt freedom.  For instance, we started out with a goal of $300 a month for groceries for our family of six.  It became evident pretty quickly that we weren’t ready for such a severe budget cut in this area, so we gave ourselves some wiggle room and now aim toward $450 a month or so on groceries.

Allow yourself the ability to adjust and change your plan, just don’t let those adjustments turn into complete abandonment of your plan.

With 2014 just on the horizon, it’s time to start making your own New Year’s resolutions.

 

What past New Year’s resolution are you most proud of keeping? Or, which do you most regret abandoning? What will you do differently in 2014?

 

Photo courtesy of: Bayasaa

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.

44 Comments

  • Matt Becker says:

    My take recently has been to try just one thing at a time. I might have a list of things I want to do, but only one of them gets tackled at first. I want to ingrain that single thing into my life as strongly as possible before moving on to the next one. That kind of focus helps me out a lot.

  • Liz says:

    This year I’m going to create a page on my blog with a list of my goals so that I have more people to be accountable to. I don’t want to dissapoint!

  • Probably the biggest thing you mentioned here is making plans for your resolutions. Resolutions without plans for success will fail. It has to be a sustainable plan too – getting up at 4am to work out every day is simply unreasonable for some people.

  • I have two resolutions for 2014…one is going to pretty easy to achieve – get the family into the eye doctor and get new glasses/contacts for those that need them. We normally do this in September but time has just gotten away from us. The other one is purposefully a stretch goal, almost a life changer. I’m dedicating 2014 to getting into the best shape of my life, running my best marathon ever (it’ll be my forth), and qualify for the Boston Marathon. It’s one of those “bucket list” things that I’ve wanted to do for years and years….and 2014 I’m going for it!!!

  • We mostly plan on doing more of the same in 2014. However, I do plan on eating healthier and weaning myself off of diet coke as well.

  • Setting your goals/resolutions is a very important process, at least for me. Also, whenever you set your goals, don’t make them vague, be as specific as you can. Don’t lose weight this year. Set a goal to lose a certain amount by a certain date. Don’t save more money this year. Set a goal to save $5,000 this year in a savings account. Whatever your goal is it needs to be something measurable and concrete. That way you can track your progress as a constant reminder of where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you need to be.

  • I’m personally going to make my list visible. For 2013 my list was put somewhere, which made me forget the exact words by February, and by June they were only thoughts. Being able to see them each day will probably make me stick to them so much more.

  • Great tips, Laurie. I stopped considering my goals as New Year resolutions since there seems to be such a high rate of failure. They are just goals now. 🙂 In my opinion, one of the biggest reason people fail is due to a lack of true commitment to their goals. They are things t hey would like to change but they haven’t thought through how to change or truly committed to the work needed to make that change. So as you said, deciding carefully on what means so much to you that you WILL do the work is important.

    • Love that, Shannon! Really thinking our goals through, and like JC said, being specific about what they are and how to get there, is HUGE. We were kind of vague last year, but now that things are not so tight, we can have the option of being more specific – yay!

  • I don’t think I have an exact resolution. I hope to keep reminding myself that I’m lucky and not to be stressed over small things. I also hope to get through a half marathon in February without having to visit the hospital!

  • I love that you had one and only one goal. That sort of singular focus is rare in my life, as there are tons of things on my goal list that I did not honestly even START. I’ll try to take a page out of your book next year, Laurie. Great post!

  • I take my resolutions one at a time. I’ve found if I try to do 5 things at once, I get overwhelmed and fail. Take being healthy for example. If I try to get to the gym everyday and eat right, that is just too much change at once in my life. I instead just focus on hitting the gym consistently. When that becomes habit or routine, then I start to slowly add in eating healthier. This helps me to achieve my resolutions.

  • anna says:

    Excellent post, Laurie! I agree setting reasonable, yet still challenging, goals and metrics are key! For me, I think incremental changes help me to create a more long-lasting lifestyle change, versus something drastic and unsustainable. I have an aggressive savings goal next year, but know that it might not be sustainable in future years if we have little ones, so it’s all about adjusting to meet your current situation. Best wishes for your 2014 goal(s)!! 🙂

  • Concentration is limited, so I tend to do one or two at a time. This has given me the best results so far.

  • Great advice here Laurie! I actually write my goals down and hang them on the fridge or wall next to my bed. It keeps me focused and helps me remember exactly what they are. Plus, seeing them motivates me even when I’m not feeling like it. I would definitely recommend it.

  • I was thinking about this last night. I have a resolution to reduce our monthly grocery bill next year. Like you wrote, now I have to make my plan and I will have to make adjustments along the way I’m sure. Last year we also made a resolution to lose weight. It was something we started in March actually but it worked out for us. I lost 10 lbs and my husband 28 lbs. So you don’t necessarily have to start in January. You can make resolutions through out the year.

  • I actually didn’t have a New Years Resolution last year though after reading everyones blogs of late I think I’ll make one for next year. Maybe by commenting I’ll feel more accountable… heres to hoping 🙂 I work as a clinical social worker at a hospital and there are extra shifts available to pick up. I plan to pick up one weekend shift and at least 5 on-call shifts a month and will put the extra dough towards paying off my student loans early.

  • I think most people set resolutions without making a plan for how to achieve them, which is why so many fail. I feel like I need a whole day to map out the things I want to achieve in 2014.

  • Micro says:

    Tweaking your goal is a very good way to help achieve success. This way you don’t just throw in the towel and give up because it’s too hard. You might have simply set up an unachievable goal. By adjusting it, you can still push yourself to change but at a more comfortable and incremental pace.

  • I find letting others know my goals helps me stay accountable and on track. This year I’m doing something different. I’m going to put it into the blogsphere so everyone knows.

    • That’s a great idea, Charles. I know being accountable in the blogsphere has really helped us – every time we think about spending money, we remember we’re going to have to share that spend with thousands of people, and it gets us back on budget real quick. 🙂

  • Every year, I make resolutions that I think are important to me but still challenging, and every year I blow it out of the park. WHich shows me not that I’m amazing (lol), but that my resolutions are far too easy.

    I do a mid year review and increase my savings goals or revise it in some way to ensure I reach it..

  • I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I see most resolutions as just setting myself up for failure. My main goal in life is to be happy, make sure my family is well cared for and happy, and perhaps try to make others happy, as well.

  • Great advice, Laurie! 2013 was the year when I first really cared about my resolutions and I plan to put more thought into what is important in 2014. Setting goals – resolutions, or whatever you want to call them – is extremely important today, to make sure that you stay focused and you know what you have to do. I too hate to fail but in some cases I intentionally set the bar a bit too high to make sure that I do my best to reach that goal. And even if I don’t completely make it, close enough is still good in that case :))

    • We’re in the same place, C! A life with goals, at least for us, really has motivated us to do better in life. I agree with you, too, about close enough. I figure any movement toward achieving my goals is a good one. 🙂

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