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Don’t make resolutions – I have a better plan! For many years I made new year’s resolutions. I used to follow the guidance in a great book called “Write It Down, Make It Happen”. There is even a new year’s ritual where I would write down the resolutions and then ceremoniously burn the little pieces of paper at the beach. It was fun, but this year is different, this is the raging 20’s!
Given my enthusiasm for that book, why am I not making resolutions this year? There are a couple reasons this year. But the main one is that I believe I have discovered a better way that works in conjunction with our psychology and biology. Don’t make resolutions.
I do not know about you, but let’s face it, the last couple of years have been hard. Here’s hoping that 2024 is a transition year into a more favorable environment for investments, the world and our health. I’m only guardedly optimistic, the raging 20’s seem to have a way of throwing us all curve balls. Therefore Money Vikings remain in defensive positions. Don’t make resolutions.
My Two Step Plan for 2024
My overall approach to “resolutions” this is year is called “Intention Focal Areas” followed by “Small Daily Actions”. Let me explain.
This approach will be much more effective than making resolutions that last until the first week in February. You know how the gyms and parks fill up for the next month with ardent exercisers and then by February everyone is gone again? My new approach will beat out making pie in the sky predictions that are pretty unreasonable followed by a month long burst. We all need something with staying power. Furthermore, I am probably not going to win the lottery in 2024 or become a billionaire. BUT, I can take small daily actions that lead to improvement and progress over the course of a year. Don’t make resolutions.
Don’t Make Resolutions, Instead Try Intention Focal Areas (IFA’s)
We can’t do it all. We are limited by resources, energy and time. Therefore the reality of life is that we must determine some high level priorities for our resources, energy and time. Otherwise we are flailing around and not focused on our highest priorities.
I would suggest writing down your top 3-7 intentional focus areas. These are broad areas or interests that we hope to make achievements in. For example, a person may want to spend more time with a loved one, start a new hobby, find a new career, go to the next level in some current interest area, get out of debt, etc. Whatever it may be, let’s write down those main areas. Here are mine for 2024 to use as an example:
- Build back emergency fund
- Be a good and effective dad/husband
- Be more frugal
- Earn more passive income
- Manage health and wellness
I think these can be general or specific. It seems to me that either way we can benefits from improvements in life. The point here is to trend in a generally good way in terms of health and wealth and success. I have come to not believe in get rich quick miracles or other sudden changes in life. Yes, life can suddenly change, but in terms of putting our energy to work, I believe it is most effective to trend in the right way for you.
My next step is to post these intentions on a bulletin board, post-its, laminate them or frame them. Yes, make them part of a visual that I will see every day.
Don’t Make Resolutions, Instead Try Small Daily Actions (SDA’s)
Intentions are nothing without energy and action. But remember, daily life is typically not “too the moon”. We get up, we struggle a bit, we waste some time, we get sidetracked, we get lazy, someone pisses us off, etc. You know the drill, and this is just real life.
It happens to all of us. We are not always on our A game. We all have off days. This is why I do not like traditional resolutions anymore. They basically mean you say to yourself: I am going to get in shape and go on a jog 3 days a week for the rest of the year. Most people will not do this.
This is where SDA’s come in. Each day, I will ask myself what small action can I take that is aligned with my IFA’s? And the intention of the SDA is to do it immediately, not later, not tmrw, not at a gym, just do it now. Let me give a few examples:
Build back emergency fund. I can get up each day and in the moment ask myself what I can do that is aligned with this focus area? On a daily basis this could be the following as quick examples:
- say no to a little splurge to save some money
- list an item on eBay and place the money in a savings account
- set up an automated $50 deduction each paycheck to go into a separate account.
- cut a subscription
You get the idea. I can do one small thing that will help me trend in the right direction. Let’s take another:
Manage health and wellness. Most people want to get in better shape each year and take care of their health. I have found that big goals like going to a gym 4 days a week are really hard to stick to. Therefore I embrace small actions on a daily basis. Here are some things I can do each day:
- cut the sugar content in half on my Starbucks order
- go for a quick walk around the block
- jump on the exercise bike for 5 mins
- Add a vegetable to an otherwise unhealthy option
- do 5 pushups now
Time Will Tell
I will keep you all posted on how this works out this year. I don’t totally understand it, but traditional resolutions just don’t feel right at this moment in time. Let’s hope my two step plan works out. I have a feeling it will help me manage life and trend towards healthier and wealthier outcomes.