Around this time of the year, many people make resolutions to improve their lives, and others’ lives around them. And while it’s a lofty goal to resolve to be better, what is usually the outcome of these “New Year’s Resolutions”? You got it–most, if not all, fall by the wayside and people go back to doing what they have always done, and reaped the rewards they have always gotten. (Rewards, punishments, etc…whatever the consequences of your habits–it’s all the same thing.) Nothing new ever happens, because no one is doing nothing new, at least in the long term. For example, if your resolution this year is to lose weight and be more fit, what are your long term plans to acheive this? For most people, they would say, “Cut down on sweets, exercise more, and eat more healthy foods.” While this is all well and good, there is not a real plan in the former sentence. What happens when the first temptation comes along, and you give in to have more sweets than you plan on? Most people give up by this time, and abandon all their well-intended resolutions. Same thing for finances–wanting to save money, and spend less, is all well and good. But this too will fall away without a definite plan.
The point to all this is that resolutions are fine as a wish list, but they won’t work in the long term. The reason is that if you don’t have a plan to implement them, along with a contingency plan to use when you fail, then all you are doing is making a wish list. Sounds harsh? Wait–it gets better. (Or worse, depending how you see things…) Say you want to increase your savings this year, but you have a hard time with your spending habits. You can’t have both. Either you spend or you save…not a hard point to understand. Unfortunately, this is what people keep thinking, and what a certain credit card company wants you to believe with their card where they put in a certain amount of money every time you use their card to spend money. The problem with this is–how much interest are you paying to save that money? Stop spending and start saving. Besides, you should be paid interest to save money, not the other way around!
So before you can start saving, you must decrease your spending. (Like with weight loss–less calories in, plus more calories spent equals weight loss.) This can be acheived by cutting down on the little things you spend money on, such as buying coffee on your way to work and bringing your own in a travel mug. Doing this little habit change could save you at least $3-$4 per cup, or more! If you were buying coffee every work day for a year, think of how much money you were spending just on your coffee per year! Let’s see…$4 per cup X 5 days per week X 4 weeks a month X 12 months = $960 per year you could save just by not buying a cup of coffee every day and bringing your own in a travel mug. I am sure that you could do that every day, right? And the money you were spending, you could put into a savings account. If you were to tally up every convenience option that you spend money on, and come up with a less expensive plan, I bet you could save a few thousand dollars every year just with very simple habit changes.
Or, say you wanted to lose weight this year. How are you going to do that? Popular diets don’t work, as you may have seen over the past two decades. Well, actually nothing will work if you don’t make a conscious choice to make it work for you. Fact is, if you implement very simple changes here as well, you could lose weight almost as effortlessly as you can save money. Maybe not as fast as you would like, but it will happen. Simple lifestyle changes, such as putting a bit less food on your plate at meal times, work better in the long run than the diet fads will. The other reason that diets don’t work is because human beings do not like feeling deprived of anything. Why do you think that the more impoverished a person is, the more stuff they tend to collect in their homes? The more stuff they have, the less deprived they feel. Same with weight loss…if you feel deprived, you will crave more food to the point of overstuffing yourself each and every time you eat. That’s why you shouldn’t cut yourself off completely from sweets…eat what you like, only in moderation. Nor should you cut yourself off from fatty animal foods, or delicious potlucks. The less deprived you feel, the less food you will eat, and the more weight you will lose.
Everything I have written today is all about choices–you make choices every single moment of every single day. If the choice you make doesn’t fit with the goals you create, then make different choices. You haven’t failed just because you made a choice that isn’t congruent to your goals. You just made a different choice is all…choose differently next time.
New Year’s Resolutions are stupid…only because people don’t put the effort to make those resolutions into reality. Every day is a new day…every moment is a new moment. You don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to choose to spend your life differently. Choose each moment that your life will be powerful, full and as wonderful as you want it to be!