Three ways to make your financial resolutions stick

January 2, 2021

The beginning of a new year can feel like a great time to set goals, we have a whole year in front of us and we’re ready to start something new. By taking the time to have a break and relax, we regain energy, and it opens our minds to new possibilities. We all love the feeling of a fresh start, but often we create unachievable resolutions that ruin that ‘new year, new you’ feeling before the month of January is up.

Here are just a few reasons we tend to give up on our new year’s resolutions so soon:

We’re not specific enough. “I’m going to save more” is a common resolution but what does that specifically mean? Creating a resolution that is too broad means we’re not clear on the intended outcome, making it hard to monitor our progress and easy to lose motivation and give up.

We don’t usually consider if it matches our values. Many people are not aware of their core values, but this is what determines our actions every single day. When we set a goal that is out of alignment with our values it can feel too unfamiliar to who we are, requiring more effort to follow through and making our success less likely.

It’s something we feel we ‘should’ do. There are many things we feel that society, family, work or even our partner thinks we should do. This pressure can make us set a goal based on other people’s expectations of us, so we’re not emotionally attached to the end result. This type of goal is often forgotten as soon as it interrupts something that we’d much rather be doing with our time.

Let’s have a look at some other ways we can set achievable new year’s resolutions:

Choose key values to live by that will determine your overall behaviour – Instead of choosing one goal, choose key values that will help you create the way you want to live your life, like “Live with abundance”. This overarching value will help you choose what you focus your attention on and how you show up as a person in the world. Then, choose 5 things that you will commit to in line with living that value. For example, “Keep a daily gratitude journal. Look for positives in others and compliment them often. Give thanks when spending money on expenses. Note value received without payment (things that you receive that aren’t money). Be generous, with expectation that it will be returned to you in some way.” Small changes are often enough to have a huge effect on our lives and are also a lot easier to commit to long term. Unlike setting one big specific resolution, this can create change in more than one area of your life.

Choose a new habit and link it to a current one – Achieving a resolution usually requires you to create new and unfamiliar habits which can be tricky to maintain on their own. Focus your attention on creating a new habit that you believe will change your life for the better and achieve results by default. The easiest way to stick with a new habit is to link it to a current one. If you want to stick to a budget, review it every week before doing your grocery shopping. If you want to build up your emergency fund, transfer equivalent amounts across every time you spend money on personal items. If you want to get better at managing your money, update your tracking app on every lunch break. By linking a new habit to one that you already do with little effort, it will soon become a natural part of your everyday activity and you will reap the long-term benefits.

Decide who you will be, not what you will do – We are always so focused on what we want to do but choosing who we want to be in any given situation can be an easier way to change your entire outlook on the world.

When you look back at the end of the year, regardless of what you have experienced, how do you want to be remembered by all those around you? No matter what happens to us throughout our lives, we always have control over one thing, and that is how we respond. This is also what people remember the most. Do you want to be solution-focused, energetic, kind, helpful, optimistic, hilarious, supportive? Think about how many areas of your life would be positively affected if you chose to show up as solution-focused, spending 90% of your time on the solution and only 10% on the problem. Your experience of life will be determined by who you choose to be in anything life throws at you so choosing a way of being is a very effective strategy.

Setting new year’s resolutions is a way of saying we want to make some changes in our lives and as you can see, there are many ways that we can choose to do that. A motivating resolution that feels achievable and aligned with our values will determine what happens post January.

So this year, if you’re going to set New Year’s resolutions, why not set yourself up for success and make them worthwhile and life changing.

Sarah is Assemble’s dedicated Financial Coach. Sarah runs our free resident financial coaching program aimed at improving financial literacy and wellbeing. Learn more about our resident services here.