With the new year upon us and 2016 behind us, maybe you’ve begun to think about your “new year’s resolutions.” Whether 2016 was a mountaintop or a valley for you, I’m sure there are aspects that you would like to change about your life. If you’re like me, too often, you make new year’s resolutions at the beginning of January and they become more like wishes you might give to a genie rather than goals with a plan in place to make actual progress. I find this to be true for other people too when I look on Craigslist in April to see a surplus of treadmills for sale with “very little wear and tear.”
Whether it’s your health, relationships, your finances or something else, here are a few thoughts you can put into practice that could help you get one step closer to real progress.
1. Don’t Change Overnight
When I was 20, I was about 80 pounds overweight. By the time I was 21 I had run a full marathon. It didn’t happen overnight. Once I had decided what I was going to accomplish, I had to assess where I was starting from. I set short-term goals that were one step out of my comfort zone that would get progressively harder: one-mile runs this week, two-mile runs next week, etc. When you break your bigger battles into smaller, more attainable steps, you are much more likely to follow through.
2. Review Your Calendar
We all have the same amount of time in the day. Decide what the most important things are to you and focus your time and energy on those things. The older I get, the more it feels like time is water coming in over the side of an overloaded boat. Sometimes I find myself standing with a bucket trying to scoop water back into the lake faster than it’s coming onto the boat. The reality is, if I would throw some items overboard rather than trying to extend the laws of buoyancy, my chances of staying afloat are much greater. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to let some things go; throw it overboard and keep only the things that are most important to us.
3. Communicate More Clearly
An influential person in my life once told me “It is unkind to be unclear.” When we don’t communicate effectively, it can lead to false assumptions and unmet expectations. This is not just true for our relationships with people. This can also be true of our relationship with ourselves, or our money. If you don’t clearly communicate where you want your money to go, then your expectations of financial success will likely be unmet. If you don’t tell yourself that you expect to lose 15 pounds, then it isn’t going to happen by accident.
4. Check Your Surroundings
This is not just a phrase to be used when putting your car in reverse. The people and the environment with which you surround yourself can be the difference between success and failure. Everyone you encounter has some level of influence on you. Consider what kind of influences you are being exposed to. Maybe you need to seek guidance in some areas. Maybe a personal trainer, or a marriage counselor, or a financial advisor. Or maybe you just need to distance yourself from some unfruitful relationships in your life. Whatever the case, maybe you are a product of your surroundings.
A new year brings new beginnings and opportunities for change. Don’t just wish for change. Now is the time to take control of your life, make a plan, write it down and take a step. Don’t focus on where you want to be next year, just focus on what you can change today that will make a difference for tomorrow.
(By Brandon Grable, Financial Advisor. GenWealth Financial Advisors is a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC.)