Why bother with new year’s resolutions?
Haven't we stopped this new year's resolution business yet?
I will say at the outset that I have never made any resolutions — ever. I don't believe in them, yet still wonder why some people do. You never keep them, do you? At least you never keep them much beyond your euphoric determination during your new year party haze. Then January 2 comes along and the hangover is over — likewise the resolutions.
I have no problem people setting goals for themselves with the best of intentions to stick to them but setting ridiculous and unattainable goals at the same time every year just seems as plausible as me being hired to play professional football for Liverpool or Manchester United. In fact, maybe I have a better chance (okay, maybe not).
Let's think about goal setting — but let's think about it on a continual basis day by day, every day. Life changes arise every day of the week. While some may not be life-changing events, nonetheless we should pay attention to everyday issues as they will impact our life one way or another.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and asked yourself: “What was I thinking about yesterday?” You had this great idea yesterday, yet this morning you question your sanity. The point is that there was a change — or at least consideration of a change — in your life. Something happened to you, or around you, and you realised that some thought was needed about how to respond.
Whether that change was imposed on you by a third party, or whether it was something you came up with alone, makes no difference. It caused you to think about your plans and whether you should realign your goals. That exercise is none other than a shift in goal setting.
Some new big-ticket item appeared unexpectedly — a new stove is needed, a new fridge is a must, maybe it is time to think about a new car. Whatever it is, your budget must change. So, that resolution that you made just a few days ago — that you would save more this year — has just taken a hit.
Deflation. Disappointment. Being upset with yourself. All these emotions may appear. Yet had you not made the resolution you'd just handle this in the normal stride of life. You would not have set yourself up to fail.
Life is a moving journey. Changes in life are moving targets. Goals are set in a regular pattern, then inevitably re-set as new events occur. That is perfectly normal. So, why change the routine at the start of a new year? Let your goals reflect your life as it changes.
If your resolution was to lose weight or stop drinking or stop smoking or to eat more healthy foods and any of them worked, then good for you. If they didn't work out don't beat yourself up — those are lofty resolutions and very difficult to maintain.
The better approach is to recognise that such resolutions can only be achieved if you take one step at a time. There really is no rush. You are wanting those goals to last for the rest of your life so expecting them to be turned around in a week or two is completely unrealistic. Small consistent steps help you to climb mountains.
Probably some level of money resolution is uppermost on most people's lists. But, yet again, there is no magic formula, especially overnight, for your money worries to change. If you owed more money on your credit cards before Christmas, then making some magical resolution at new year is not going to change anything.
Until and unless you implement a regular savings routine that you stick to month over month over month, your spending habits will control your life and particularly your long-term savings. Recognise all your expenses — not just those you choose to create a comfortable budget.
Once you have worked out how to make changes to be able to save long term, then hopefully next New Year you may decide to follow a new resolution: “I promise to stick to my new savings plan.” More importantly it will be one resolution you will keep.
• Bill Storie is chief executive of The Olderhood Group Ltd, Bermuda and is a CA (Scotland). He is also producer and host of Olderhood Radio, featuring podcasts posted on The Royal Gazette website on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, visit www.olderhoodgroup.com