New Year’s Resolution

Mack Courter |

There’s no middle ground with New Year’s Resolutions.  You either like them or you don’t. 

Whether or not you’re a fan often depends on past experience.  If you’ve had good experiences with New Year’s resolutions, you like them; and if you haven’t, you don’t. 

Being self-employed AND a financial planner, I am doubly motivated to set goals for each New Year. 

When I would reach my goals by the end of the year, it felt awesome.  But when I didn’t, it felt horrible.  (Not to mention it made me unbearable to be around, my wife told me). 

So a couple of years ago, I changed how I approached New Year’s Resolutions.  I stopped focusing on results, and started focusing on effort

For example, resolving to save $5,000 or pay off $5,000 of debt this year is focusing on results.  But, resolving to manage your money wisely this year is focusing on effort.   

There are things we can control in life, and there are things we can’t.  Quite honestly, we can’t control results.  We can have the best, fanciest, most brilliant strategy to achieve our goals; and something totally unexpected can wreak it.  Just ask the Denver Broncos or Alabama Crimson Tide.  (Apologies to all the fans for ripping the band aid off a fresh wound.) 

As Mike Tyson stated, “Everyone has a plan until he gets punched in the mouth.” 

Results-oriented resolutions often lead to failure, which leads to dispensing with New Year’s resolutions all together. 

Effort-oriented resolutions are easier to control.  Going back to my example, you remind yourself each morning of your goal to manage money wisely that day.  At the end of the day, you ask yourself how you did.    

Do you blow it sometimes?  Sure.  Just pick yourself up and try again the next day.  Over time, the effort becomes a habit, and the habit leads to results.         

Focus on the effort, and the results will take care of themselves.