It is that time of year when people decide to make their resolution for the new year. Eating healthier and exercising is a popular one. For students, a resolution might include studying more. Some people have financial goals, such as getting out of debt or saving more money.
If you belong to a gym, you will probably see an increase in the crowd during January. This will likely taper off in February and you will start to see the “regulars” again, perhaps with a few new regulars.
It is said that it takes doing something every day for three weeks for it to become a habit. This doesn’t always hold true, but it is a decent guideline for making sure you get past that three-week mark and into a new habit.
I think many people go wrong with their New Year’s resolution because it is too drastic of a change in lifestyle. Unless they are really motivated, it will be hard to stick with it.
If you are used to eating junk food most of the time and you all of a sudden try eating everything healthy, it will be a difficult transition. This may not be true for someone who just suffered a heart attack or someone who was just diagnosed with a disease. There is strong motivation there. But for someone who just wants to lose a few pounds, it may not be enough motivation to change everything.
So here is my suggestion when making a New Year’s resolution. Unless you are really highly motivated, take small steps. You can do something small every day to move in the right direction.
If you are trying to eat healthier, perhaps it is best not to give up all junk food at once and deny yourself. Instead, make small changes. Maybe you can cut back from two sodas per day to one soda per day and replace it with water. Maybe you can avoid snacking on potato chips in the afternoon and instead choose some carrots or an avocado.
The key is to do something that you can stick with. If you are still allowed to have dessert after dinner, maybe it won’t be as hard giving it up after your lunch. Or maybe you can cut the dessert portions into smaller sizes than what you would have typically consumed in the past.
I think the same strategy can apply to your finances or almost anything else you want to improve.
If you want to spend less and save more, maybe it is best not to eliminate cable television, your cell phone, and your daily trips to Starbucks all at the same time. Unless you are in dire financial circumstances, perhaps you can eliminate one thing, or cut back on it.
Perhaps you could pack a lunch for yourself a few times a week instead of buying from a restaurant or cafeteria. Perhaps you could stop your daily trips to Starbucks and just limit it to twice per week starting off.
This strategy isn’t for everyone. Some people are better going cold turkey. For most people though, it is quite difficult to make drastic lifestyle changes all at once. Eliminating Starbucks every day may not seem like a drastic lifestyle change, but habits can be hard to break, especially when you are getting instant gratification.
In 2014, do something small for yourself every day that is achievable and will help you towards bigger things down the road.