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Don’t make it a resolution that you “should” want or what other people tell you to want. It has to fit with your own values. “Put some thought into it,” says Richard O’Connor, author of “Happy at Last: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Finding Joy.” And avoid knee-jerk New Year’s resolutions. “I encourage people not to make cheap resolutions, but to save it for something meaningful.”
It is probably more realistic to make two or three resolutions that you intend to keep. This will help you focus your efforts on the goals you truly want without overwhelming you.
To be effective, resolutions and goals need to be specific. Having a resolution to “exercise more,” is ambiguous. Try narrowing down the details, such as, “I’m working out at the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 p.m.”
Automating financial goals can maximize your odds for success without you having to do anything, says Keith Ernst, director of research for the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, N.C. If your goal is to save $3,000 this year, calculate the amount out of each check, then arrange to have it automatically deposited into your savings account each time you get paid.
Rather than stating one daunting goal, create a series of smaller steps to reach it. By having an action plan, you can figure out exactly what you want to do.
One reason that resolutions fail is people don’t change the habits that sabotage them, says Rosalene Glickman, author of “Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best Self.” One approach is to realize that all you ever have is the present moment. So ask what you can do now that will get you closer to your goal. It could mean trade-offs such as sacrificing an hour of couch time for your new goals, but that’s how you get resolutions implemented.
Writing and visualizing are effective tools for fulfilling a goal because they fix it firmly in the subconscious, says Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” And if you write down your goals, put them in a prominent place where you’ll view them frequently, such as on the fridge or on your desk.
Having someone hold you accountable can be a powerful tool. “In general, making a public commitment adds motivation,” O’Connor says.
If you fall off the wagon, jump back on. Many people fall into the trap of believing that if they stumble, they should give up. The truth is you don’t have to wait for next year or for some magic moment. Instead, realize that slipping is part of the process. Then, get back to your goals.
Information from Bankrate.com by Dana Dratch.