2022 is right around the corner. It’s time to reset and refocus. These weeks before the New Year are a time to set goals, to think about transformations instead of resolutions, and to say goodbye to bad old habits and hello to new plans to make our lives spectacular. Am I right?
There’s a neat quote that sums up a lot about the New Year and all its relentlessly upbeat thinking: “A year from now, you’re going to weigh more or less than what you do right now” (Dr. Phil McGraw).
How devastating! How dare Dr. Phil stomp on our noble aspirations this way? But if you really think about it, he’s right. Things will be different in December 2022, whether we want that or not, but by how much and in what ways? Will there be big changes or little humdrum shifts?
Now, there are ways to influence how much you will weigh next year. If your goal is to weigh less, there are changes you can make in your daily life. You can start a new exercise program or eat differently. I have heard good things about the Mediterranean Diet. On Jan. 2nd I am going to take it up in a serious way. That’s how I’ll show Dr. Phil what I can do.
And when it comes to your financial goals, you might be considering going on a strict budget. Are you going to save more? In both large and small ways, are you going to be better with money this coming year?
These are admirable goals, but you need to ask yourself whether you shouldn’t have a good flowchart to help you achieve these things, with specific action steps you’ve thought about critically. And how reasonable are your goals to begin with? If you’ve only managed to save an average of $200 a month your whole working life, what are the chances you can actually save $1,000 a month starting in January? You might make it through a month or two, but the burden of budgeting and saving will become heavier as the year continues.
Thinking in terms of bold actions and big, sweeping changes is admirable, but we must remember that generally we achieve big things with small, manageable steps.
When you think about financial goals, you generally start big, like wanting to save $30,000 in 2022 or pay off $50,000 of your debt. Take a moment and pick just one financial goal for 2022, like wanting to save $30,000. That will require saving $7,500 per quarter, which seems a bit less overwhelming. We can break it down further to $2,500 per month. Though that might seem more achievable, it’s still a lot of money. Now break it down to the amounts that you must save weekly and daily. That would come to about $625 a week or $84 a day. Think you can do it?
Why not start with $100 per week as a goal, starting in January. Now, you might scrunch up your nose and say, well, that won’t get me anywhere near my $30,000. But if you can consistently achieve a manageable goal, then you can easily build on it. Think of wanting to run a 10K even though you don’t exercise much. You can’t simply brush off the potato chip crumbs and go out and run 6.5 miles immediately. You start by running for 5 minutes, then pushing yourself to 10, then to a mile, and so on. You need to do the same sort of thing when you have a savings goal. Each week you should ask yourself how you’re doing, then maybe step up to the next level. Eventually you might be saving $1,000 a week and making up for the slow start.
We understand the tortoise strategy in other areas of our lives, such as remaking our bodies or learning new skills like knitting or golfing. However, whenever we think about financial goals, we tend to come up with all-or-nothing strategies. We want to be perfect savers and get in perfect financial shape immediately. But that’s rarely the way things happen. Building as you go, checking regularly on your progress, improving your financial habits as you mature, both as a saver and a person — that is the best way to work toward the financial freedom you want.
The most important thing to think about is your motivation. Why do you want to achieve your goal? Asking this question will often keep you going when you hit a snag. Starting right now, then slowly but relentlessly moving forward — that is the key to financial success. (See our recent article on this topic here.) Stay upbeat. Focus on your wins and remember that more wins are in store for you if you persist. Don’t dwell on mistakes. Beating yourself up about spending too much money one dumb night or on a foolish whim doesn’t help.
We, as humans, are not perfect. As Mr. Rogers said, “Little by little we human beings are confronted with situations that give us more and more clues that we are not perfect.” I love that. Not being perfect is what makes us unique, even special. Starting small and acknowledging that we’re less than perfect, we can push ahead and end up with a better outcome than we ever thought possible.
Of course, this can all seem overwhelming at times. If you are looking for a real transformation and not simply another forgettable resolution for 2022, please reach out to us at One Vision Retirement and set up a no-obligation meeting: https://calendly.com/onevisionretire/discovery-call . You will be glad to have some guidance as you go through 2022 and build toward your goals.