We all have goals in the new year. But what are goals without the right motivation and wherewithal to stick to ‘em?! So you want to get healthy, get wealthy, and keep yourself together while doing it? Same here… and we have some tips!
Set realistic and manageable goals.
According to University of Pennsylvania research, one week into the new year, just 77 percent of resolution makers are still on track, and after six months, only about 40 percent will have stuck it out. It’s one thing to try to drag your holiday-cookie-lovin’-booty to the gym regularly. It’s another to make attainable health goals that work for you. Make your goals realistic and possible. Then, break them down into manageable steps. So, when June hits, you aren’t one of those majority slackers who shirked your resolutions, because it got too frustrating or the aim was too high.
Figure out why you’re doing it.
Temptation is all around us. It could be the temptation to eat 19 egg rolls or to chill on the couch with a pizza instead of hitting the gym… But you can stick to your fitness goal. You just need to figure out why you’re doing it.
Maybe you’re tired of feeling sluggish. Maybe you want to hike a mountain. Maybe you have a pile of jeans in your closet that you hope will fit you. Whatever your reason, use it as a motivator when you’re in the temptation seat.
Make it a habit.
Why is it so hard to stay on track? Especially with a health resolution, like working out or eating better? "It's easy to change your attitude but difficult to change your behavior," says Christine Whelan, PhD, clinical professor in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "If you're committed to it, however, you can make a new habit or behavior permanent."
So, if you’re used to late night Taco Bell and mac and cheese lunches, your brain will fight you (as if the temptation wasn’t hard enough, right?) It can make that heart healthy quinoa bowl look super lame for lunch, but the best thing you can do is… KEEP DOING IT. It takes 21 days to form a habit. TWENTY. ONE. DAYS. OF. QUINOA. BOWLS. (You got this.)
Understand your investments.
Think about it. Every month you put some earned money somewhere and you’re like… “Hey, what’s that all about?” While some people are savvy about where they’re putting their money, some of us just sort of trust the process.
While you don’t have to know all the ins and outs of investing, you should at least have a bit of knowledge on your stocks and 401k. Even further, understanding where your money is invested, how much your credit costs each year, how Social Security is calculated, and the process of your mortgage could help you invest smarter.
Learn to save.
So you’ve got your investments under control, but you’re still grabbing that $4 latte each morning. Hey, we all have our vices. But learning to save doesn’t happen overnight. Start getting used to money-saving tips and tricks, if only so you are more aware of where your cash is going every week. Have you never used coupons before? Try it out for a week. Are you used to the grab-and-go process at the grocery store? Start planning meals and ingredients. Track your subscription costs to movie, TV, and music apps. Maybe you don’t need an iTunes AND a Spotify Premium account. And hey! If you make zero changes, that’s fine too! At least you’ll have a better understanding of where that spend goes. (So, don’t come crying to me at the end of the month when you can’t afford that Friday night burrito…)
Build a budget.
Budgeting… the dreaded backbone of our hard-earned cash. So here you are at the beginning of the year. It’s a clean slate, and a good opportunity to implement a yearly budget. Don’t worry: it doesn’t have to be fancy with allocated charts and graphs. Just make a simple list of expenses and income. Building the budget is the easy part; it’s adhering to it that takes the yearly commitment. Guaranteed if you do though, your bank account with be happier and healthier at the end of the year.
Get some storage.
We all have a junk drawer (or sometimes even a junk closet?) where we throw our random knick-knacks, our seasonal décor, our laundry when we don’t want to do it…
I’m here to let you in on an already well-known but seemingly difficult concept: storage bins. Take a look at your mess, assess the damage, strategize what you need, and get yourself some storage bins. For instance, if your cleaning supplies are having a mosh pit party under your sink, a quick $2 plastic bin can corral them. I know this seems like an obvious solution, but there have been many times where I just toss stuff in a drawer or closet and forget it’s there. This is how you end up with 4 bottles of Windex, people.
Use a calendar.
Whether it’s in your phone or old school pen and paper, keep a calendar of all your appointments, activities, meetings, social meetups, etc. Admittedly, this is just good adulting 101. I’ve definitely forgotten dinner with a friend on more than one occasion, merely because I didn’t put it in my phone calendar. And guess what… it makes you look like a jerk. (Sorry, friends.)
You can also up your organization game by categorizing your calendars based on the type of event. Appointments, social gatherings, and work events can all be split up into different categories but kept on the same calendar.
Take everything one week at a time.
All of this is great in theory, and of course the motivation is there when you start. But by the 2nd or 3rd month of the year, you may get tired and fizzle out. (Who the heck needs to organize their sock drawer when you could eat cheese in your sweatpants, right?) We all want to stay on track with all of our goals, but how? Take it week-by-week. Make a plan at the beginning of the week and stick to your schedule. It's easier to make a plan to go to the gym three times this week than forever plan to go to the gym three times every week forever. When you plan week-by-week, you have more chances to be successful, and more success and fuel your motivation.
Get some financial knowledge in the noggin’, get healthy, and stick to your guns! You’ll be able to hit your goals one day at a time. Here’s to a new year! Here’s to health, wealth, and keeping it all together.