The clock is ticking, but we still have a little time before 2021 is upon us. This year, no one could blame you for simply surviving the challenges that 2020 brought, but for those who want to thrive in the new year, setting a few effective resolutions can be your key to success.
What to Focus On
Most new year’s resolutions revolve around five areas of focus.
Personal goals – What lights you up inside and what do you want to do more of? For some, this may be refining a talent, exploring a new passion, or even working on your weaknesses. Resolutions don’t have to be major to be effective. Are you known for always running late? Resolve to show up on time or even early! It’s these small changes that can often yield big time results.
Health – Money and success are great, but they certainly can’t buy you well-being! If you’ve been neglecting your health recently—and, with a pandemic, no one will blame you for making Oreos a diet staple—the new year is the perfect time to reassess how your mind and body are operating. A new exercise, diet, or meditation regimen can be the key to mental and physical acuity in 2021.
Wealth – Money may not be everything, but it’s certainly something. There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting financial goals for the new year. These goals don’t even have to be about making more money; they can revolve around saving more money. Or learning to invest in the stock market. Or creating a road map that will leave you with a healthy down payment on a house. The world is your oyster for financial goals in the new year, but the time is now!
Business – Take a look at where you ended 2020 career-wise, and then envision where you want to be 12 months from now. Once again, this new year’s resolution doesn’t have to be all about the bottom line, though it should be about results! Maybe your goal is to generate more leads, secure a new job title, make two new contacts per week, or increase your social media following by 20 percent every two months. Sure, these goals may lead to more green, but you want to determine what would make your job easier, faster, and more fulfilling and then let those actions dictate your resolutions.
Family – If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how easy it is to take our loved ones for granted. We’ve definitely received a wake-up call as a country that time is precious, tomorrow isn’t promised, and our health can change in an instant. Carry these sentiments into the new year regardless of how long this pandemic lasts. Don’t just say you’re going to spend more time with your kids, partner, or parents. Establish an actionable game plan that will allow you to do just that.
And on that note, setting effective new year’s resolutions is all about:
Determining Your Motivation
Before you begin any endeavor—resolution or no—you have to solve for “why.” Knowing your why is of the utmost importance not only when it comes to establishing a resolution but also when it comes to plotting your course and staying motivated to achieve your goal.
Do you want to commit to working out at least three times a week in the New Year because you’ll be able to keep up with your kids better on the soccer field…or because that just seems like a reasonable resolution you should make? If it’s the latter, chances are high you’ll be watching Netflix five nights a week by February 1.
Let’s say you’re setting financial goals for the new year. Great! What are they? Please don’t say “make more money.” Or even “save more money.” We all know what a goal without a plan is, right? At best, it’s a wish. At worst, it’s a plan to fail. So dive into the nitty gritty. What do you really want? If it’s more money, then more money for what? A house, boat, vacation, rainy day fund?
Chances are this money doesn’t just appear out of thin air, so once you know why you want more money and what you plan to use this money for, go about creating a realistic plan that will help you save more and earn more. Remember, you can always move the goal line if you discover the resolution you set is too hard or easy. The important thing is that you start somewhere. When you do, your plan will grant that wish before you know it.
Sharing Your Goals (And Your Progress)
Accountability partners are a blessing and a curse—which is why they’re so effective at helping you keep new year’s resolutions! If you’re the only one who knows about your resolution, it’s beyond easy to blow it off at the first signs of trouble. If, on the other hand, your entire family is cheering you on when you lace up those sneakers for a 7 a.m. run—or your neighbor is waiting outside for you, ready to join you on that run—it’s a heck of a lot harder to blow off these activities. People are counting on you. People believe in you. Tugs at the heart strings, doesn’t it?
So find that cheerleading squad and that accountability partner. They don’t even have to share the same goal as you. Perhaps they check in on your running progress while you ask them how their new budget is working out. The activity and goal don’t matter so much here. The fact that you’re honest with your squad and remain committed to the people who have been involved in your resolution since day one is what really counts.
You’re already checking in with your partner and supporters, but don’t forget to check in with yourself! As we mentioned above, there is no shame in adjusting the resolution game. You may have set your goal and created a road map for how you can achieve it, but plans adjust all the time (hello, 2020). If you were too optimistic about how much time you can devote to cooking healthy meals at home or how much of your paycheck you can sock away for that boat, no biggie. Adjust your numbers. A best practice is to check yourself and your plan every 90-days, and pivot as needed.
Maybe this means you go from cooking at home four times a week to three times a week. Or maybe you shift to ordering healthy takeout for two of those four meals. The path to the goal is dependent on you, but it’s not pre-defined. Focus less on how you arrive at a successful resolution and more on the fact that you arrive at all. One thing about adjusting goals: only do so after you take an honest assessment of where you’re at. If you simply find it inconvenient to sacrifice that new pair of shoes to achieve your savings goal, that’s not a great reason to revise a resolution. If, however, you find that you’re eating 30-cent ramen twice a day because of your resolution, then you may need to give yourself a little breathing room.
New year’s resolutions are inherently tough because we’re challenging ourselves to commit to something we’re not already doing. But that doesn’t mean they’re impossible. They’re actually pretty darn achievable as long as we’re honest with ourselves (and others), realistic in our approach, and prepared to make small adjustments and sacrifices to make these new resolutions a reality.
And if your new year’s resolution involves buying a home, creating a home budget, or refinancing to renovate your current home, find an APM Loan Advisor near you. We live for goals and we can’t wait to help you with yours! The APM family wishes you and yours a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.