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As the new year kicks off, you might be thinking about your hopes and dreams for 2018. You may even have a monster plan to bring in the New Year with a big bang. Not me, this year I’m once again scaling back …and maybe you should too.

 

I’ve given a lot of advice about resolutions and have created my own lists for years now.  But I’m going back to something that’s worked for me in the past: A simple plan with only one goal. For me, it’s just a better approach than trying to implement a multi-faceted plan that I’ve got a track record of falling flat on. Too many goals, too many squirrels and too little success.  

 

It’s good to think big, but I’m going to stay focused, fight hard and finish strong (I stole that line from my son’s middle school football coach—it was years ago, but it stuck with me).

 

What’s Your One Thing?

Fortunately, if you were already on the “think big” path, the hard work is already done.  Now you’ve just go to narrow down your choices and ask, “What’s one thing that could make a big difference in my finances if I could just pull it off?” Is it finally tackling that debt load, a budget that needs to be a guiding document for your spending and not an afterthought, or a savings plan that needs to be started or reinvigorated?  All those ideas and I haven’t even touched on exercise or eating! So, where will you direct your efforts this year?

 

For my family, the resolution this year is simple: We’re going to pay off our two car loans. We’ve already had a planning session and I’ve got total buy in (money is a team game!) and it’s going to work. How do I know that? We’ve done it before. A few years ago, we agreed upon the single goal of setting up accounts to automatically fund all our short-term goals (vacation, etc.) each paycheck. It worked and we’re still doing it today. Keep it simple and this year could be the first in recent memory where your New Year’s resolution has staying power.

 

Visualize Success, Build a Plan and Execute

You’ve picked your goal, clearly defined success and now it’s time to map out how you’re going to get it done.  The beauty of scaling back is that you won’t need an offsite planning conference with audiovisual support and complicated diagrams to design your strategy. It may take nothing more than a pad of paper and a few minutes chatting after dinner to get on track. Simple or complex, you need to have the whole team paddling in the same direction. And then execute. It’s never easy (trust me, I’ve hit the snooze button on more than one exercise wake-up call), but with laser-like focus on a single outcome, financial or otherwise, my guess is that success that you visualized has a much better chance to become reality.

 

If you can successfully plan, execute and deliver on more than one goal this year, more power to you. But whether you’re trying to turn the corner with your finances, health or relationships, set yourself up for real success by eating the proverbial elephant one bite at a time.

 

What is your one goal? Share with us in the comments below!

 

 

About the Blogger:

JJ Montanaro is a Certified Financial Planner® professional and part of the Military Affairs team at USAA. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and has over 20 years of financial planning experience.

 

Disclosure: "Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements."

 

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