The New Year is here! That also means last year is over, and it’s time to see how well we did on our New Year’s resolutions that we made last January. Do you even remember what they were? I sure don’t, but I don’t think I had any. Lose weight, exercise, or learn a skill? Why make New Year’s resolutions when 80% of them fail by February and only 8% of the population achieves their goal?
Set SMART Goals
Set Financial Goals
Hopefully, you are following steps to get your financial life in order, but if you haven’t started yet, then set a goal to get on a plan this year. If you are not on a written, detailed plan for your money, then start there. Have a goal to have a budget for the next three months. If you don’t have $1,000 saved for your starter emergency fund set a goal to get it done in the next three months.
Whether you’re paying off your debt, saving for retirement, or paying off your mortgage early, set goals that get you where you want to be in five or 10 years. If you are spending $1,000 a month on groceries for your family of four, set a goal to only be spending $600 a month by July 1. Over the next six months, manage your grocery budget each month better than you have been so that you can reach your goal. Stop eating out, stop buying convenience food, and start eating healthy. Who knows, maybe this will help you lose weight, too!
If you are already reducing your debt by $1,000 a month, see if a goal of $1,500 a month is realistic for you for this year. Go through your budget and see where you are spending money that isn’t helping you live the best life that you can.
Set Physical Goals
Most people’s New Year’s resolutions are to eat healthier and exercise. These are good New Year’s resolutions to have, but you need to make sure your goals are measurable. Don’t just say you want to lose weight this next year. What does that look like? Make a goal of losing 10 pounds by July 1 or even April 1 and keeping the weight off for the rest of the year.
Some of you, instead of having a set number of pounds you want to lose this next year, you should have an exercise goal. Have a goal of exercising a half hour a day or walking 10 to 20 miles a week or some other goal that you and your doctor agree is good for you to have. Have a goal of eating healthier by not eating out every week. Set your restaurant budget amount to $50-$75 a month to help you reach a healthier eating goal. This also helps with your financial goals!
Learn a New Skill
Learning certain skills can help you achieve your other New Year’s resolutions. Most Friday or Saturday evenings we eat pizza for dinner at our house. We started this routine earlier last year, but we have never had a pizza delivered to our house since we moved here four years ago. The two pizzas we make each weekend (one sausage and one sausage and olives) cost around $9.00 total to make. This $9.00 includes a loaf of bread that gets made at the same time, and likewise, we haven’t bought bread from the store for over a year, either. Making these at home and skipping the pizza delivery saves us $20 a week, or $1,000 a year. I just need to quit eating half of a pizza each meal to help with my weight loss goal!
Learning cooking or baking skills isn’t that hard and can cut your food budget, but there are other skills that you can learn, too. Find something that you are interested in and learn it. Have a goal to work on learning a new skill for a few hours each week because practice makes perfect.
Set Spiritual Goals
When it comes to spiritual goals, we have to be careful. We shouldn’t think that if we do certain spiritual activities that this brings us closer to God. Some things like just reading the Bible more would do that, but other things like going to church more often or increasing our offering can do that, but we need to be careful. Some of the spiritual goals are good to have because they can form good habits for us, just like having other goals can.
One goal to have would be to attend church more regularly. If you are currently going to church once a month, then consider having a goal of going twice a month.
Another goal to consider is increasing your offering. January is a good time to review what you gave to your church last year and determine what percentage of your gross income that was. Have the goal of increasing you’re offering by 1% of your gross income. If you’re currently giving 2.5% of your gross household income (which is average in the US), then consider giving 3.5% of your gross household income. Consider giving even more!
Track Your New Year’s Resolutions
If our New Year’s resolutions are SMART goals, we can track our resolutions and know if we are on track to complete them. Your goals should be hung up in your house where you can see them every day. This will give you a reminder of them every day throughout the year.
Some of your resolutions should have due dates on them. The due date should not be December 31st for every one of your goals.
Track your resolutions on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Some of these will need to be broken down into steps, and the steps need to be tracked throughout the year. Maybe you can’t walk 15 miles a week right now and doing so would be hazardous to your health. Talk to your doctor. See if he can get you on a plan to be able to walk two to three miles a day by the second quarter of this year. Your goal for the first quarter would be to get to that point so that you can complete your goal of walking 15 miles a week this year.
What to do When Our New Year’s Resolutions Fail
When we notice we’re failing at our goals, the easiest thing to do is just shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well. I tried.” If you don’t know you are failing at your New Year’s resolutions, it’s probably because you are not tracking them. Once you know you are failing with your goals, you can start at them again. You do not have to wait until January the next year.
Stop complaining about your life and start changing what you can! Set resolutions for this coming year and track them all year long so that you have a better chance of completing them. Have more than financial goals. Your life isn’t only about finances. Make sure you are working to better all areas of your life.
God’s Blessings in the New Year!