Is Failure Expected?

Resolve to succeed instead!

It’s that time of year when we all hear a lot about “New Year’s Resolutions”.  Webster’s Dictionary provides various definitions of the word

Resolution:  

  1. Firm determination.
  2. An act of resolving to do something.
  3. Separation or reduction of something into its constituent parts 
  4. A decision of a court of law” among others (New Riverside Dictionary).

It has always seemed to me that New Year’s resolutions are a terrible way to begin a new year.  Often, as most of us who have ever made these resolutions know, we fail to implement them long term.  If this is the usual outcome, why persist in setting ourselves up for failure?

New-Years-Resolution-Cartoon

We should program our actions for success instead.

All creatures need motivation for action.  Humans resolve to be better at various things when making New Year’s resolutions.  Common ones are losing weight, saving more money, and to stop smoking.  While very different, these three resolutions have a common theme:  the individual is attempting to do something that they have not been doing, or stop doing something they enjoy. Often times failure is the outcome.

One must break down any task or resolution into manageable parts. 

Instead of saying you are going to lose weight, make a list of action items to facilitate this objective.  The action items could be

  1. Hire a personal trainer.
  2. Keep a food diary.
  3. Walk the dogs 4 times a week.
  4. Refuse to purchase the high calorie low nutrition food that can commonly end up in the grocery cart.

Hiring a personal trainer and making smarter eating choices has helped me drop two pant sizes this year.  Shopping just the perimeter of the grocery store is another smart move.

To save more money you have to begin by saving something. 

A Chinese philosopher once said, “The journey begins with a single step!”  Participating in a company 401-k is an easy way to do this since money is deducted before you see it.  Make your maximum contribution, not just the amount that the company match.  My rule of thumb is that you need to sock away 15% of every dollar you make.  So, if you make $50,000 you need to save $7500.  An easy way to begin is to pay yourself weekly by having a set dollar amount transferred into your savings account to build a cushion.  Once a cushion is established then allocate these funds to a investment account. You can start one with, as little as, $50.  Money adds up and seeing the account grow motivates you to save and invest more.  If you aren’t covered by a retirement plan at work, begin a ROTH IRA or REGULAR IRA and add monthly.  Too many folks think these accounts can only be in the bank.  Not so!  You can begin most any retirement account with $50 and add that small amount each time, increasing as you are able.  Our retirement is mostly our responsibility.  This lesson needs to be discussed more graphically than it is now. 

Stopping smoking used to be more challenging than it is now – or so I’m told by folks who have done it. 

Willpower alone can’t cure an addiction to nicotine.  Patches, smokeless cigarettes, hypnosis and other tools have proven effective in transitioning to being smoke free.  Certainly when the restaurants became smoke-free that was a huge win for us non-smokers!  Any habit, good or bad, develops when we are substituting one action for another.  Evaluating why we take actions that are not in our best interest is a great way to know ourselves better and decide to move toward positive change.

For success, set yourself up to WIN.  In my profession I want all my clients to WIN THE MONEY GAME.  To win you must participate and be your own primary cheerleader.  Surround yourself with others who are like minded.  Stay away from those who don’t want to change behaviors, seek those who build you up and support your efforts.

Yoda, one of my favorite characters, said, “Either do it or don’t do it; there is no try.”

Resolve to “do it” for yourself.  There is no try! 

Pay yourself first; you are the most important bill you have.  That’s a smart Financial Strategy for Life!

“This material is intended for informational purposes only and should only be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.”

About Sara Seasholtz

Sara Seasholtz, CFP®, was voted one of "50 Most Influential Women in Charlotte" by The Mecklenburg Times in 2011, and she's been a trusted financial advisor to her clients for over 30 years. Have a financial question?ASK SARA!

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