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Why I Hate New Year’s Resolutions

Financial Planning, General
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What a load of…

I hate New Year’s Resolutions and all the nonsense that comes with them. I don’t know exactly when I came to the conclusion that they are a load of nonsense but it is now ingrained deep within me. So much so that I don’t remember one I have ever made and certainly none that I have ever kept.

From my observations New Year’s Resolutions have mostly vague statements of intent, some grandiose notion that this year we will achieve everything we have ever dreamed. What a load of…

Stormtroopers New Years Resolutions

 

I have never been one to set New Year’s resolutions, growing up I noticed that they were mostly set by people wishing to lose weight or get fit. These have never been a concern for me, I have always been lucky in that I am sports daft and I have played football in one form or another since I was six years old. As an adult my weight has fluctuated by about a stone give or take a banana but I could always rely on preseason training to get rid of any turkey belly.

In the gym in January and February you will always see the usual influx of seasonal exercisers. People who would vow to lose weight and join the gym with good intentions of going every week. By the end of February most will have given up.

But New Year’s Resolutions and Financial Planning have a lot in common; they both involve setting a goal, designing a plan to achieve that goal and reviewing that plan on an annual basis.

So why do I hate New Year’s Resolutions?

That’s easy:

They’re too vague – I want to lose weight, get fit, pay off some debt or earn more money.  These are pure waffle in terms of a goal. A goal needs to have a specific measurable target – I want to lose 20 lbs, I want to run 3 times a week, I want to earn an extra £3,000 per annum.

It’s all in your head – New Year’s resolutions are rarely written down, this makes it is easy to lose track of your goals. According to research by the Dominican University in California you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals simply by writing them down.

They don’t come with a plan – A goal without a plan is simply a dream. Once you have a setback, New Year’s resolutions tend to get discarded.  Just look at how busy the gym is in January/February compared to later in the year. Goals and their respective plans should be reviewed and amended regularly.

What is the Alternative?

Get a plan by setting some SMART goals for life not just the New Year. SMART goals have been around for years now but just to clarify a SMART goal is:

Specific

Measureable

Achievable

Realistic

Time Bound

Wishing for a comfortable retirement is too vague whereas aiming to retire on £25,000 per annum by the age of 60 is a specific goal.  Instead of aiming to reduce your debt you should be aiming to be debt free in 5 years.

These are goals that are specific, measureable and time bound. Your personal financial circumstance will dictate whether they are achievable and realistic but you get the picture.

I suppose then it’s not the setting of New Year’s Resolutions that I hate but the manner in which we tend to set these goals. So I invite you all not to create New Year’s resolutions but set smart goals for the next year and beyond. Commit them to paper and create a plan to achieve them.

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About Ciaran Scullion

I am a Financial Planner and Mortgage Adviser. I provide Independent Financial Advice through my company From Acorns Financial Planning Ltd to personal and business clients throughout Northern Ireland from my base in Tyrone, Mid Ulster.

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