At the start of a new year, many of us take the opportunity to reflect on the past 365 days and consider what we might change going forward.
Lose weight, show more gratitude, or save more ... these are noble goals that are often forgotten by the time Valentine's Day rolls around. This year, take charge with a plan to keep your resolutions on track so you can celebrate your success in December. Here's how:
start small and think sMART
It’s easier to accomplish a big goal when you break it down into a series of smaller goals. These are called SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based. A few examples:
- Replacing a fast-food lunch with a protein-packed salad twice a week.
- Sending a thank-you note each time you receive a gift.
- Transferring $25 from each paycheck to a savings account.
stay motivated with family and friends
Instead of making a silent vow, tell your friends and family what your resolution is and how you hope to accomplish it. The added social element can be the motivation you need to stay committed. Pairing up with other people or creating a challenge to include healthy competition can push you to stay on top of your goals and remain accountable.
expect setbacks and reward successes
You might feel as if you’re taking two steps forward and one step back, but don’t let a setback derail you! Setbacks are normal, even with the most focused goal-achievers among us. Keep your eyes on your next step. If you feel like you're sliding back to hold habits, adapt your goal so it's easier to meet with success. For example, maybe you're not saving as much as you would like from each paycheck because you've had some unexpected bills. Rather than throw in the towel, give yourself a break and save a smaller amount...just don't stop saving!
It's also important to celebrate your victories, even small ones. You saved the first $1,000 in your emergency savings account or opened up your first certificate account? Woo-hoo! The more you enjoy what you’re doing, the better your chances at meeting the goals you set down for yourself in the beginning of the year.