Is Your 2014 Financial Resolution Already Off-Track? Refocus on Your Financial Goals

So you made a New Year’s resolution involving finances, and it’s already fallen to the wayside.

expired-resolutionsWe get it. Maybe you resolved to reduce your credit card debt, save for a home or build an emergency fund, or even something as simple as create and stick to a budget. You must live and breathe that commitment each and every day if you are to achieve it, but relax—it’s not that hard. Below are some helpful hints to help you keep your 2014 financial resolution:

Take Pen to Paper

Write down your goal. Insure that it meets the following criteria:

  • The goal must be specific. What action will you take? “I will deposit $200 from each paycheck into my retirement account” as opposed to “I will save more this year.”
  • Make sure it’s measurable. You must be able to measure whether or not you are on track.
  • The goal must be achievable. Do your homework and ascertain if your goal is financially achievable.
  • Make it realistic. If your job requires you to drive all over town to meet with clients, you don’t have any control over whether you can spend less on gas, so don’t make that your goal.
  • It should be timely. Your goal must be stated in a way that holds you accountable to a time table. For example, “I will deposit $50 a month” as opposed to “I will save more.”

Now that you’ve set your goal, stay on track.

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Achieving Any Resolution or Goal

Alien monster making resolutionsEach December, as the year comes to a close, most of us start to evaluate where we are in life. We think about how we live and what we would like to change in the upcoming year. Then, we make New Year’s resolutions, resolving to deliberately implement the changes we want to see. Unfortunately, that’s as close as most of us get to achieving these goals. After the champagne toasts and the midnight kisses, we go back to business as usual, and don’t even remember our resolutions until February or later, which is obviously the wrong time of year to start implementing change by society’s standards.

But there are ways to take initiative and achieve some of the goals you set for yourself any time of the year, not just the end or beginning. After all, you don’t need a new year to make a new you. 

Set Long Term Goals

The biggest reason that people don’t act on their New Year’s resolutions or any resolutions for change is that they forget about them until they feel it is too late to start them, but it is never too late. One way around this is to set long-term goals, rather than daily habit changes. So instead of saying, “I’m going to run every morning” and then using the fact that you didn’t start January 1st as an excuse to not start January 23rd, set the goal of “becoming more fit”.

Of course, goals need parameters, and the more specific you are, the more likely you are to achieve them. But your real goal isn’t to run every day, it is to get in shape, or start living healthier. So when you wake up on January 23rd and remember “Oh, I’m supposed to be getting in shape” you can assess how to get there from where you are. Now morning runs are an option, because it doesn’t come with the caveat “I ran every day… well, I started late, and missed some weekends, but I ran a couple times!”

So if you have the overall goal of “Getting in Shape” you can then write out how you plan on getting there. Sub-goals might be “Exercise” and “Eat Better” Then you can list action items that will get you there. But if you slip a little you can always add new action items, or change your plan to be more realistic or effective. This way you can still achieve your overall goal, because you have the ability to adapt without feeling like a failure.

forgetful-womanDon’t Let Yourself Forget

Another way to make sure you reach your resolutions is to make sure you remember them. This can be done in many ways. Post your goals on your mirror, your fridge, your tv- any surface you look at regularly. Tell your friends and family your resolutions and ask that they keep you accountable and check in about how you are doing. Put goal deadlines in your phone calendar, send yourself email reminders, or include it in an online invitation to yourself with the New Year’s party you went to (or any party for that matter). Do whatever it takes to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.

Use multiple strategies. After a week or so, that paper on your fridge will become commonplace, and just blend in with everything else. We don’t always see the things that are part of our everyday lives. So challenge yourself to change things up, and keep your focus on the end goal.

Make Little Changes

Big changes only come about when little changes are made. Think about how we grow. Day-to-day is pretty much the same. But a year goes by, and we might notice some changes. 10 years go by and we could be a completely different person. Those years are made up of individual days, and though the days themselves don’t seem to bear any significant changes, they add up. Here are some little things you can do to get on the way to big changes.

If your goals involve becoming more social or healing/developing relationships, set aside a day each week to go to coffee or lunch with a friend. This little break will be great for both of you, and will get you in the habit of spending more time with people.

Keep in touch with faraway friends and family by making regular phone calls. Even if it’s once a month, they will love hearing from you. Set aside a little time to write letters or send emails. For a personal touch, send invitations or cards to let people know you’re thinking about them. It will bring a smile to their face and a touch of fun to correspondence.

Most New Year’s Goals involve physical appearance in some way. If you’re not someone who exercises regularly, it can be hard to start, but quickly becomes addicting. Even taking a walk a couple times a week can get your energy going, and soon you’ll be jogging, doing stretches and sit-ups, and maybe even going to the gym.

Nancy ArnoldAbout the author:

Nancy Arnold is a graphic artist and writer, with a particular focus on producing fun and interactive designs for kids birthday invitations. She loves parties of all kinds, and when she happens to not be at a party she can probably be found shooting paintballs at her friends.

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Getting Started (Again)

There is no limit to how many times you can “begin” again.

There’s no denying that it’s frustrating to “start over” again and again and again.

We feel embarrassed and sometimes even ashamed. Because of those feelings, we keep our plans to ourselves, telling fewer and fewer people. Although it’s not required that we tell people, but the down side of not discussing what we want with those supportive to us is if no one knows what we’re doing, it makes it easier for us to back out and “save face.”

The reality is the one person who really matters does know; that’s us. WE know we’ve let ourselves down. WE know that we’re not doing what we want to do. And there’s no one else more important than US when it comes to changing.

It’s inevitable; you’re going to slip up. You’re going to fall down. But the key to success is getting up more times than you fall.<

Get up. Keep going. Start again.

No one is keeping count.

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How to Stay Motivated & Keep Your Fitness Levels Up

by guest author Sean Byrne

For many years now I have been involved in developing and maintaining my fitness levels.

Ever since I was a young teen, I was out playing all sorts of sports activities, my favorite one being soccer. I absolutely loved playing sports and it was difficult for me to train my academic side as sports really did take over my life. But as I have gotten older, I have to say that things have changed for me slightly in the sense that the desire to remain focused and motivated has been challenging for me as time has drifted by. Life changes and circumstances too, so it’s important you realize this.

Staying motivated to remain fit has its challenges and I know a lot of people struggle with this too. This is the reason I decided to write this article, as I know people want to learn how others remain motivated to stay in shape and maintain their fitness levels. So after the New Years Eve resolutions begin to slide out of focus, what can we do to strengthen our desires again? Let’s take a look at what I do these days to stay on track.

Picture Your Perfect Body

My first reason on how I stay motivated is picturing the perfect figure I would like to achieve. What do I want to ultimately look like? I go and view magazines, go online to check out images of the type of body I want to achieve. When I do find a body I want to own, I then cut out or print off these images and blow them up into an A1 size image so I can nail them to my wall with a caption that says, “Look At You come the 31 of May 2012!!”. What this caption does is it gives me a time frame to work on. So I could be starting at the beginning of December, allowing myself six months to achieve this look. This is one of the ways I stay motivated, as every time I jump on my treadmill, or workout with my weights, I visually see my end goal and it makes me want to achieve this goal. By taking action, I know I am chipping away at receiving my end goal.

For Reasons Of Heath

The next point on how I stay motivated is for the reason of health. Almost every day I appreciate the fact that I am not cursed with some chronic disease, or the fact that I don’t have any medical condition to worry about. I know that eating healthy and doing my exercises a few times a week will do wonders for maintaining my health and reduce any risk of developing a sickness of whatever sort. I have conditioned myself, through repetitional thought to be thankful for my good health. This in turn keeps me motivated to eat the right foods and exercise on a regular basis.

Maintaining A Positive Frame of Mind

Perhaps one of my favorite reasons for staying motivated is the notion that once I start running on the treadmill, or lifting those weights, I am alleviating stress from my body, building up my self confidence and self-esteem and working towards a calmer state of being. I am addicted to this calmer state of being and I know that if I exercise intensity for 30 minutes at the beginning of the day, I will be in a much stronger, calmer frame of mind for the rest of the day. The desire to achieve this state of being motivates me to maintain my fitness levels and I usually have no problems taking action!

About the Author: As explained in the article, Sean enjoys developing and maintaining his fitness levels and has a few reasons for staying motivated on achieving his fitness goals. When he is not actively fit, he is maintaining and promoting his treadmill website. His site offers reviews and ratings on some of the top treadmills you can purchase online. Take a look at some of the top products in the market today and see which popular treadmill you’d like to purchase next.

 

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Benchmarking is Better Than a Resolution and Gets Better Results, Too!

Guest Writer: Terri Langhans, CSP

Let’s put this behind us.

Benchmarks are better than resolutions and get better results!

Just days after New Year’s, my daughter and I were talking about making and breaking resolutions. She said hers would be easy to keep. She wanted to cook-in more. Kelsey is in her last semester of graduate school and races between school, internship, work and the gym, eating or munching on the run, or standing at the kitchen counter in her apartment.

I took a deep breath, pondering whether I should just say, “That’s a good one, sweetie,” wearing my Mommy Hat, or tell her what I really thought, wearing my Business Hat.

I managed both. “That’s a good one, sweetie. You’re such a good cook, and you’ll probably save money, too.” Pause. “And, you know what I tell people in my audiences–to put a number on it and create a benchmark. Otherwise it’s not going to happen.”

“It’s cooking, Mom, not accounting,” she sighed. “But what’s a benchmark, again?”

I told her this, essentially.

Fancy definition: it’s a number that measures an activity or result. Real world example: whether you want to cook-in, play tennis, exercise, read, write, walk, run, dance, speak, consult, sell or save more, put a number on it. How many times a MONTH will you make it happen? 1? 4? 8? 16? 20? 30?

Don’t say 10. I mean, you could say you’re going to do something 10 times a month, but it gives me a brain cramp. Yoga 10 times a month? Is that 2 times one week, 3 times the next week, then 2 and 3 again? Make the math easily divisible by 4, as in weeks in a month. Dial it down to 8 or crank it up to 12.

Forget the annual goal.

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