Originally written for and published on We are Auburn.
January is a wonderful time of the year, it provides a fresh start, a clean slate and so many new possibilities. All the talk is about New Years Resolutions, your new goals for the year, what you’ll give up and what you’ll start. Often, by mid-February – or sometimes even earlier – the momentum fades. And the talk becomes about how many of us have given up on all the promises we made on January 1st.
This cycle is unhelpful, uninspiring and can make us feel like failures. So rather than jumping straight on the resolution train again this year, I have a different approach. One which should help you stay on track, stay focused and most importantly, make the progress you want to.
Resolutions, or habits as that’s often what they are, are only as good as the bigger purpose they serve. If you decide to make one of your resolutions to be ‘better with money’ that’s great – but what does that really involve? What are the specific actions you can take to actually be better with money, what is the long-term goal and why is this important?
CONNECTING WITH YOUR WHY AND WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE IN 2020
A strong mission is the best driver to take you to the next level. Deciding what you want, and why you want it is the first step. Let’s continue to use ‘being better with money’ as the example – although this method can be applied to anything you want to achieve.
The first question to ask yourself is why. Why do you want to be better with money, is it because you want to save for a house? Save to go on that dream holiday to Australia next year? Or save enough to quit your job and go sailing round Croatia for six months? Whatever you come up with, even if it’s a dream that feels like a long way off, take some time to think about it. Imagine what it will be like to sat in your own kitchen with a cuppa, or taking the helm as you explore the Dalmatian coast.
Once you’re done daydreaming it’s time to get practical. In this case, how much money do you need to make this a reality? Let’s say it’s £5k, this then becomes your big overarching goal.
THE NEXT STEP IS TO THINK ABOUT ACTIONS AND HABITS
We have our big goal and we have our strong why behind it so it’s time to think about all the actions you can take to make it happen.
For this goal the question is how will you get the money? Commit to saving more each month? Start selling a few handbags on ebay? Ask for a payrise? Be creative and make a list of all the actions you can take to make it happen.
Alongside this, also make a list of the habits you want to form. Think about habits as the sort of behaviours you wished you did without thinking. When it’s a habit, it’s harder not to do it than do it. These are subconscious things which help us to meet our goals on auto pilot – so think about the ones you want to form. And the easiest way to form a habit is to just do it, there are no bed habits we can’t break either!
For example: the action you will take is to save £300 a month, supported by the new habit of bringing your lunch into work rather than buying it.
Now, rather than a vague resolution about ‘being better with money’ you have a plan to save £5k (a specific goal) so you can go sailing in Croatia (a strong ‘why’ that you are excited about) you’ll do it by saving £300 a month and selling some things on ebay (actions) and you will start bringing your lunch into work (a new habit).
To show how this could apply to another goal, lets look at ‘getting fitter’.
What do I want to achieve – Run a 10k
Why is this important – I want to be fitter and healthier, I imagine myself not panting when I climb two flights of stairs
Action – Sign up to running training programme
Habit – Get up at 6am, do a run before work at least three times a week
Whatever you’re looking to achieve next year, make sure you are kind to yourself. If you slip up, don’t worry about it. Keep going anyway.
And January isn’t the only time to start to make the changes you want. There is nothing to say you can’t decide to start right now….