I think we’re all rolling into the New Year with high hopes that 2021 will look a lot different than 2020. To help get things on track, I’ve made a short list of resolutions. While I’ve learned over the years that making a list is a far cry from seeing it through, these resolutions inspire me because they feel attainable. Want to join me in my quest to change the narrative next year? Read on for five actions we can take to ensure 2021 brings sustainable change.
Have a plan with a vision. Too often people set off on their financial journey with good intentions and little else. Whether you are intent on spending less, paying down debt, or saving for another goal, create a simple written plan. Display it front-and-center, whether that means taping it to the refrigerator, your closet door, or computer screen. To increase your success factor, make it visual. Maybe it’s a picture of your dream home, maybe it’s you standing on the putting green, or maybe it’s just an image of your mailbox with absolute certainty that nothing scary awaits.
Get laser focused. Pick one or two important goals, and follow through with a plan to achieve them. After 2020, you can probably identify a dozen different areas that could benefit from your attention. Remember that 2021 is about lasting change and narrowing your focus can make that a reality.
Reward yourself along the way. No matter the task at hand, all work and no breaks usually leads to disaster. You’ve probably been there — a binge of sweets after weeks of dieting or a shopping spree that sinks months of frugality. Instead, include some modest, but planned, “atta boys” along the way. Got that first credit card paid off? Celebrate your success over a night out with your spouse or friend. (But pay with cash!)
Enlist some help. In fact, your celebration partner may also make the ideal accountability partner. Whether you’re watching what you eat or trying to exercise more, knowing someone will be there to give you a well-earned pat on the back or a much-needed kick on the backside is helpful. The same is true with financial goals. Accountability partners can also be more formal, such as a financial planner or counselor.
Be realistic. Last, but certainly not least, set achievable goals. In many cases, your plan may be a multi-year endeavor with small, realistic steps along the way. We know one of the quickest ways to failure is through goals disguised as dreams. Instead, mastering easy wins through small steps gives you the encouragement you need to make big changes.
Remember, it’s not all about the money. Among a lot of other things, 2020 was a vivid reminder that health is priority one! And that’s not just physical health, it’s also mental health. I know taking leave of my home office on a regular basis and forcing myself to take walks – and even join some work meetings on those walks – has helped me cope. There’s nothing more basic than our health, so consider that as you build out your plan for 2021.
Let’s all do our part to make 2021 a year to remember!
This material is for informational purposes. Consider your own financial circumstances carefully before making a decision and consult with your tax, legal or estate planning professional.
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