Every year, people set resolutions with the hope to change something in their lives for the better...whether it be their health, career or finances. But the grand gesture of setting a New Year’s resolution can be an uphill battle. When we set a financial goal, we are attempting to shift our behavior and, thus, change our habits. This is no easy task.
We’re now three months into 2021. Have you already lost momentum or fallen off track? If so, you’re not alone. Studies have found that most resolutions don’t even make it to February. I believe that this happens because when setting a resolution, often too much emphasis is put on the final result and not the process. We need to consider how we plan to achieve our goal rather than what our goal actually is.
You can’t run a marathon before you’ve run a mile.
My sport growing up was distance running, which is not an easy sport to pick up and be good at immediately. Most people can’t just wake up one day and decide to run a marathon (26.2 miles!). You need to build a base by running shorter distances at first, and, as you get in shape, add more distance or speed to challenge your body. Over time, these smaller runs add up and become the reason you’re able to run a marathon.
Everyone should approach their resolutions with the same mentality as getting in shape for a marathon. When you set a major financial goal, it can feel daunting from the onset (not that dissimilar from running a marathon). That’s why it’s important to break down your goal into more manageable and achievable milestones (like running one mile or a 5k). This way, each time you surpass a milestone, you feel that sense of accomplishment that keeps you motivated and pressing forward.
Approach your financial goal the same way that you would train for a marathon, one mile at a time.
Let’s apply this marathon mindset to a big financial goal, like saving $100,000. We know that we can’t run a marathon before we’ve run a mile--and we can’t save $100,000 before we’ve saved $1,000. First, we need to break down our goal into smaller, achievable milestones. (Remember, how you achieve your goal is more important than what your goal actually is.) When we aim for saving that first $1,000, then $10,000, and so on, each milestone achieved is a win and each win is positive reinforcement to keep going.
If you set a resolution to be better with money this year, but have lost momentum or fallen off track, it’s not too late. Now is the opportunity to take action and still reach your financial goals.
Revisit the motivation for setting your resolution. Visualize the benefit of your financial goal and understand why you are doing it. Break your goal down into smaller milestones and give yourself deadlines for achieving each step. Before you know it, the momentum is building, new habits have been formed, and you’re looking back at what you previously thought was an insurmountable hurdle.
If you need help creating a plan for how you’re going to achieve your financial goals this year, schedule a call with me or your Wealth Coach and let’s get started. Each of us is capable of attaining our goals as long as we don’t doubt our ability to achieve them.
Jason is a Certified Financial Planner™ and earned a B.S. in Economics from Penn State University and a M.S. in Accounting-Tax from Southern New Hampshire University. Jason worked on Wall Street for over 15 years and has always been fascinated with the stock market. Throughout his career, he has enjoyed sharing that passion with his clients. He also loves helping people with their finances so that they can live the life they’ve always wanted to live. Outside of work, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and three young kids. He is an avid distance runner, huge sports fan, and amateur hot sauce maker.