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The ONE Thing You Need to Do Differently This Year to Hit Your 2021 Goals

Resolution notes

If you are one of the millions of Americans who are making a New Year’s Resolution this year, one or more of these statements probably looks familiar.

  • THIS YEAR, I’m finally going to get in shape!
  • THIS YEAR, I’m finally going to pay off my debt!
  • THIS YEAR, I’m finally going to learn to say “NO” to people!
  • THIS YEAR, I’m finally going to stop eating out so much!
  • THIS YEAR, I’m finally going to quit smoking!

In a 2019 survey of the most popular resolutions, goals around health and money were by far the most common categories. (2019 survey by Ipsos for Urban Plates). 

Fast forward to February, and chances are, your good intentions have probably already fallen off the wagon. Sound familiar?

You may be comforted to know that 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the second week of February.

We start out all gung ho in January but then ‘stuff’ happens, right? We get busy, we get stressed, we hit roadblocks or barriers and it all goes to pot. We start justifying that it’s only one cigarette, it’s only one Chipotle run or it’s only one trip to the mall (or these days, a shopping spree on Amazon!). Before you know it, we can hardly remember what we set as a goal in the first place! 

In fact, only 8% of people who made resolutions at the beginning of a year actually finish the year having accomplished what they said they would.  Pretty grim statistics here. 

You’ve probably heard the conventional wisdom on why we give up so quickly, which is that we tend to frame our resolutions as just that, resolutions, instead of framing our desired behavioral change as a specific and measurable goal. Most ‘experts’ on goal setting will tell you that if you truly want to achieve something, you’ll need to break it down into small and achievable bite-size actions. 

So instead of saying that your goal is to be healthier or to lose weight, you’ll want to state your goal as “I will do 30 minutes of walking each day” or “I will eat a salad for lunch Monday through Friday”.  Study after study has proven that this strategy of getting very specific with our goals and setting up the goal as small actions each day, DOES lead to more success. But even with this strategy, most people just can’t stick with it. 

While setting specific, measurable and actionable goals is great, there’s ONE HUGE component for success that’s missing.  That missing piece is EMOTION.

If you can’t tie an emotional connection to your goal, you’ll have a hard time sticking to it when the going get’s tough. It’s the emotional aspect of the goal that keeps us motivated to get up off the couch and take a walk when what we really feel like doing is watching reruns of The Office

Let’s say your goal is to lose 25 pounds this year. Instead of focusing on the goal itself, focus on how you will FEEL when you achieve the goal:

  • Proud?
  • Sexy?
  • Attractive?
  • Loved?
  • Happy?

Psychologists have proven in numerous studies that we make behavioral decisions based on emotion rather than logic. When you’re tempted to eat a cheeseburger rather than a salad, think of how you’ll feel when you are 25 pounds lighter.  Connecting the emotional outcome of your New Year’s Resolution to the behavior you are trying to change sets you up for success.

A great way to tie an emotion to a goal is to think about how our achieving the goal will benefit someone you love. If I pay off a credit card, will you be able to start putting money away for your children’s financial future?  If I quit smoking, will I live longer for my family? If I get physically healthier, will I be able to do more activities with my kids? It’s these kinds of emotions that will help you stick with your resolution in a much more powerful way than any other tactic you might try to use.

As Financial Coaches, we often get new clients early in the year seeking help with paying off debt, sticking to a spending and savings plan, talking about money issues with their spouse or family member or just looking to create an emergency fund.

They’ve made a New Year’s Resolution to finally get their relationship with their money in a positive place. Our coaching will first focus on our clients’ emotions and beliefs around money and sometimes our clients don’t ‘get’ why this is so important. Why can’t we just skip all that and help them with the money behaviors? Because we know that in order to stick with their money goals, understanding their money “WHY” is the key to their success.

Top Resolutions for 2020

Plan to Prosper

If you’d like to get a positive start on your goal-setting journey, request a FREE copy of our Plan to Prosper tool!

You’ll identify Five Areas of Financial Prosperity, the emotions you’ll feel when you accomplish the goal, and know what action steps you need to take to make this goal a reality.