Thursday, January 1, 2009

How to Succeed with New Year's Resolutions

Welcome 2009!

Did you make any resolutions this year? For the past few years I have skipped the resolutions. Mostly because they are usually stupid, but even more because they're usually broken before the first quarter has passed.

To prevent this from happening this year I (and you) need to put some work into the resolutions themselves.

#1 Make them SMART. Yeah, this one is used by many companies when teaching employees to set goals. But you know what? It works.
To make goals SMART they must be:
S-specific, M-measurable, A - attainable, R - realistic and T-timely.
#2 Write them down. This sounds like a no brainer. But right now, as in the past, my resolutions are just in my head. And since some involve other people I'll need to write them down.

#3 Share them. Don't just share them with the other people involved, either. By sharing your goals you're more likely to feel obligated.

Okay, so now some ideas on how to put each of these steps into action.

#1 make it SMART
Stupid Resolution: Increase my emergency fund.
SMART Resolution: By December 1, 2009 I will add $1,800 to my emergency fund. I will do this by saving $150/month. This will come from reducing eating out for lunch and dinner to one day per week for each.

#2 Write it Down.
I saw something that really stuck in my mind. No idea where I saw it, but I thought it was brilliant. A woman took the tip of writing down her goal to a new level. She made a collage of pictures that represented a) her goal of increasing her savings and b) the life she would enjoy if she reached her goal. She hung in on her fridge where she'd be reminded everyday. What I like about this is that it wasn't so specific that she could keep it on her fridge no matter who might be in her house to see it. Unlike what we'll do....

I am going to post a chart in our study that shows our progress in reducing debt. I want the kids to know exactly how much debt we have and what we're doing to get rid of it. They'll also be good at prodding us along to make progress. And it'll be a good way to remind them that we can't go out to dinner as often.

#3 Share it.
If you're too private to share your goals social networking sites can be useful. Try 43 Things, Twitter and Facebook. 43 Things will even send you email reminders. Rutgers University has a program called Small Steps to Health and Wealth that is designed to motivate you to improve their health and personal finances. Their simple questionnaire let's you register your goals and receive regular encouragement.

So if you haven't set any resolutions try just making one and using these tips. I'm curious to see if it works for you. As for me, well I'm off today to act on one of my resolutions--be more spontaneous. Actually I do have it written down in SMART form. So here now I've shared it. And last night a friend and I planned to take the Polar Bear Plunge today. As long as she doesn't chicken out I am going for it. I'll let you know how I do.
To turn your resolutions into successful changes is

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