Believe it or not, we’re living in the waning moments of 2013. Whether we like it or not, the new year is nearly upon us. In light of that, I can pretty much guarantee you that in a few weeks you will start to hear many around you talk about their New Year’s Resolutions and what their goals are for the year. It makes sense on one level, I guess, as it’s the start of a new year and the possibilities are endless. However, if you see the problem now then why wait until the new year to set some sort of resolution?
The Problem With New Year’s Resolutions
I know I may sound like a Grinch, but I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I know, I said it! I am not opposed at all to setting goals and working towards them to improve myself, in fact I think it’s incredibly important to do so. The problem is that for many, New Year’s resolutions are simply too vague, such as:
- Lose weight
- Pay off debt
- Start saving for retirement
You get the idea. These are all great goals to work towards – heck, I have worked on all of them in the past and think they’re important to be doing. The problem is they’re too vague. There’s no deadlines associated with them so there’s no motivation to begin working on them right away. I’ve discovered for myself that when I set vague goals, I rarely achieve them.
A more effective goal is one that is measurable, specific and achievable. For example, instead of just saying ‘I want to lose weight this year,’ I should say ‘I will lose 10 pounds by February 15.’ If I’m using January 1 as a start date then I’ve set a deadline and a specific, measurable goal.
There is no Time Like the Present
Another issue that sometimes holds me, and others, back from achieving our goals is having no sense of immediacy about beginning them. The point I am getting at is that if you see a problem then you should attack it no matter the time of year it is and certainly not wait to make a New Year’s Resolution out of it. Take paying off debt for example. If you see the need to do it now, then why wait? That time you’re wasting is costing you money! If that’s not encouragement enough to get you started then I don’t know what is. The same can be said for saving or investing your money. That time you’re putting it off is only hurting you in the long run.
Set Goals and Keep Yourself Accountable
Going back to the failure behind so many New Year’s Resolutions is the fact that they are not specific enough. Meaning, there is nothing to measure them against and there are no markers to help you track your progress. Take investing in the stock market for example. Say you want to get started but have been putting it off for one reason or another. Start now and commit yourself to putting aside a certain amount of money each week or month. Don’t just stop there though, check in on it on a regular basis to keep yourself accountable to the goal you have set. Essentially, set yourself SMART goals that will encourage and challenge you to actively work on them. The key is to make them applicable to your life and your situation – otherwise you’re less likely to accomplish them.
Do yourself a favor and if you see the need to improve on something, don’t wait around to make a New Year’s resolution as the more time you put it off, the more likely you are to not do it.
Do you set New Year’s resolutions? What is one are you’d like to improve in next year?
Image by Greg Habermann / Flickr