20 December 19
Do New Year’s resolutions work for you? Starting up a new year and turning a new page, many of us hope to improve our habits and build on past successes.
But there’s a reason they say the best time to join a gym is in February – after it empties out from all the New Year “resolvers” dropping off. So what’s the best way to make changes stick?
It’s time to think differently about resolutions. There are alternative ways to restart and improve for the new year… and beyond.
Setting intentions instead of resolutions can be helpful. Much like mindfulness, they are all about the here and now instead of being focused on a far-off future.
“Setting and living your intentions allows you to focus on who you are in the moment, to recognize and live your values, and to raise your emotional energy, which in turn raises your physical energy,” says adviser Marla Tabaka.
So how do you want to live right now? In this present moment, what is a positive intention that you can choose that will influence your entire year ahead?
For example, you might choose an intention to be more giving or to grow more, either as a person or even with your money.
Intentions are about our process right now, and not so much about the outcome. And the process is something we can control and influence – whereas the result is very often not entirely within our power.
Think of yourself as an athlete who, while they can’t control the outcome of the competition, can certainly choose how much effort they put in to training. Their intention, in every moment, is to give their absolute best.
Resolutions are just a bit too demanding. There’s no room for failure. Having a theme or word is a gentler approach, more forgiving. So instead, you could give 2020 its very own theme this year.
What’s your word of the year? Picking one and living with it – like “growth”, “kindness”, “joy” or “wellness” – can capture your aspirations for the year to come. It can also be something you need to bring your game up a notch.
Melinda Gates has been advocating this approach since 2016. First she chose “gentle”. Then “spacious”. There are so many potential variations on a theme for a year.
It’s a positive alternative to doomed resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions that are popular with people tend to be these:
Interestingly, only one of these resolutions – becoming debt-free – is directly linked to money. But indirectly speaking, they all affect your finances.
Getting in shape may mean some new exercise gear; eating healthier and getting organised also create different expenses and purchases. On the plus side, drinking less and smoking less will free up thousands from your budget each year! (You can use Sorted’s savings calculator for motivation.)
One more alternative to New Year’s resolutions is setting specific targets for the short, medium and long terms.
The short-term stuff (three years or less) is easiest – the next holiday, next birthday, next gadget, next festival. It’s easy to visualise where you want to be.
Medium-term goals (four to nine years) take a bit more planning, but are doable: saving a house deposit, an emergency fund, becoming debt-free.
But the long-term goals (10 years plus) are truly a New Decade resolution: paying off a mortgage, investing for retirement, etc.
Remember, time is on your side, so you can achieve much more than you’d ever anticipate.
Sorted’s goal planner gets you started spreading your goals through each of those three timeframes: short, medium and long term.
So whichever alternative to New Year’s resolutions you take – intentions, words or setting targets – may they jumpstart your 2020 like never before. New year, new you!