There are three days left in 2016 which means we’re in prime resolution season. Be honest: are you setting New Year’s resolutions you can actually achieve?
Setting New Year’s resolutions is a favorite tradition of mine. I’m a total goal setter, and the more specific, the better. I love using the New Year as a chance to reset, think about my larger life goals, and set myself on the path to achieving the things I want.
Let me stress: I like to use the new year as a chance to reset, but I do so within reason. I set resolutions that I believe I can actually achieve.
At the dawn of each new year, people set their resolutions to ‘Beast Mode’ and completely forget there are steps in between their current life and their dream life. January is a great new month, but it won’t just magically see you shed 15 pounds or deposit $5,000 into your bank account.
Setting ambitious resolutions might be a great way to stay inspired throughout the year, but considering that just 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions, I think the wiser route is to set ones you actually have a chance of sticking with.
My initial resolution for 2015, was to pay off my remaining student loan debt. I gave myself a deadline of February 2016. I had just over $12,766.58 left to pay, but in 2014 I had only made $15,000 total. I knew there was a small chance of paying off all my debt in 2015 if my income didn’t rise dramatically.
I gave myself 14 months to knock out my debt. It was a realistic timeline for me. I ended up growing my income and paying off all my debt in just six months. I think a large part of that was that I didn’t hold my own feet to the fire with my original resolution. By giving myself the room I needed I was able to end up crushing my goal.
If you’re setting a resolution this new year, keep it within your capabilities. Say you’re looking to get into better physical shape- don’t download The Rock’s workout plan and swear you’ll do it every day. Similarly, don’t swear off going out to eat all together to reach your goal of saving more money.
To really achieve your goals, break down what you want and reverse engineer what you need to do to get there.
A goal to ‘save more money’ is a goal that will never be achieved. It’s too general to hold yourself to. Instead, be more specific. Set a resolution to save a certain amount of money in a certain account. So ‘save more money’ becomes ‘save $5,000 into my 401k,’ a resolution you have a much better chance of keeping.
Once you have a specific goal, allow yourself the whole year to achieve it. You’ve got the time so might as well use it! Divide the $5,000 by 12 so that you know what you have to do each month of the year. By saving $416.66 a month, you’ll hit your goal by the end of the year.
Finally, understand that these are your goals and you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Who cares what other people are doing? What matters most is what you do to live the best life for yourself. This is your life.
What are your resolutions for the new year, and how are you going to reach them?
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.