New Year, New Resolutions, New Approach
by Brandon Miller on Feb 22, 2023
New Year, New Resolutions, New Approach
Presented by Brio Financial Group
San Francisco’s Central Subway has opened to the public. Finally. The project was plagued with design controversies, cost overruns, years of delay—and a literal plague. But when the memory of all that subsides, what will stand is a new line that connects underserved communities, diminishes traffic congestion in densely populated neighborhoods, and makes getting around the city more convenient for residents and tourists.
That’s the way it goes with major undertakings. They rarely follow the path predicted because real life intervenes and requires unexpected detours. But in the end, the effort is worthwhile.
Reality’s potholes may have you starting off 2023 lamenting the resolutions you didn’t accomplish in 2022. Didn’t buy a house, start a family, get certified in a new field, save for retirement, or fill-in-the-blank like you planned? Yeah, that happens.
Instead of berating yourself, maybe accept that you’re human and map out how to move forward. Whether your goals are financial or personal, I suggest these steps: make sure you still want what you thought you wanted, figure out which of your many goals is most important, make a realistic plan, and hold yourself accountable. Here are some tips for each one.
Reassess. What got in the way of accomplishing your goal? Something like an illness or job loss that was beyond your control? Or did you drag your feet because you’re really not sure that you want to go through with the goal? Perhaps you didn’t marry your partner not because inflation made your ideal wedding too expensive right now but because you’re not sure that they are the one.
The distance between the goals you set early last year and now may help make it clear that you do or don’t want to continue pursuing something. If you’re having trouble determining whether to keep or chuck a goal, prioritization (see next tip) might help. It’s also useful for the things that make your list of resolutions every year—I’m looking at you, Eating Better.
Prioritize. You can find all kinds of tips online for how to prioritize life goals that compete for your time and money. But I find the best starting point is to define what you value most in life and base your priorities on those beliefs. If you favor living the high life today over future financial security—not something I recommend, by the way—then funding a retirement account probably isn’t going to get top priority. If learning a new skill is genuinely important to you, it’s easier to reclaim the time for a study session that you would have spent binge-watching The White Lotus.
Competing goals with equal priority—whether yours alone or yours and a partner or family—present two options. You can either tackle them one by one, or concentrate on them all at once. For example, would you feel better putting money aside for a six-month financial cushion before paying down debt? Or do you need to feel you’re making progress on both?
Remember also that some goals can have multiple benefits. Say you reduced your five-bottle-a-week wine habit to three. That could improve your health, as well as save money.
Break it down. Shrinking big goals into manageable bits can make the challenges before you less intimidating. Vowing to put away $500 a month for a down payment on a house helps you focus on what you’re saving instead of the discouragingly large amount you need. Likewise, losing one or two pounds every month seems easier than losing 20 pounds this year.
Track. Another advantage of breaking your goals into achievable tasks is that it’s easier to measure your success and stay on track. For an extra nudge, you can find apps that monitor your achievements or enlist a friend to keep you accountable or even join you.
If you figure out what’s important to you and pursue goals that align with those values, you’ll likely figure out a way to make them happen—no matter how long it may take. All the work you put into accomplishing your goals will be worth it when you finally succeed. And if you need a reminder of the benefits of perseverance, just hop on the Central Subway the next time you have a hankering for dim sum.
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