New Year’s Resolutions – part 2
In part 1 of our New year’s resolution articles, we looked at the importance of becoming self-aware or your financial position, tracking your spending and tips to reduce the amount of noise/distractions life can have and how to improve this.
Part 2 we explore; what you can control, not being too serious, habits and goal setting.
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CANNOT CHANGE
Resisting or trying to control things that are not in our direct control is the cause of a lot of human misery. What does this have to do with financial resilience? A lot of people spend money to change the way they – or someone else – feels.
Understanding what you can’t change takes practice.
Give this a try: can you actually change the fact that COVID-19 is still in play and affecting your suburb and your company? Of course not.
Here are some other things you also cannot directly change:
- Other people’s opinions and decisions (especially if you think they’re “wrong”);
- Other people’s behaviours, including their flaws, habits and problems;
- Final decisions and rulings made by companies, and governments;
- The job market;
- The housing or rental market;
- The cost of buying anything;
- Money that has already been spent; and
- Debts that have been fairly accrued.
What do you think you have been trying to change that is actually beyond your direct control?
Here’s a list of things that we can change (even if it is difficult to do so):
- Our own decisions and opinions;
- Our own behaviours and how we react (including good and bad habits);
- How we spend our time;
- Our loneliness, including any tendency to repeat our mistakes (we can ask for help);
- What we spend our money on;
- Our level of savings and the direction of our finances;
- Our financial literacy;
- Debts that have been unfairly/illegally accrued
TAKE HAVING FUN MORE SERIOUSLY
True, it seems counter-intuitive to be “serious” about fun and laughter. What we really mean is to make having fun a priority. There is some science that shows how important fun and laughter is:
- It improves relationships;
- It relaxes and makes us more confident;
- It is good for our health – reducing potentially harmful hormones like cortisol and noradrenalin and improving our immune system response;
- Fun invariably leads to laughter, which also has a host of positive physiological affects including raising mood;
- It improves satisfaction levels at home and in the workplace.
So how do we have more fun? Try thinking of fun as “play”.
Play isn’t just important for children, though it’s often best with children.
Play with your kids, get down on the ground with them – inside or outside. In their fort, in the dirt. It’s good for everyone involved.
If you don’t have kids, play with your dog.
If you don’t have a dog, sing bad 80s music at the top of your lungs, jump in the ocean regularly, rediscover things you loved doing as a teenager.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone a little, perhaps with dancing, or taking up a craft or hobby that sounds enjoyable to you.
Try to book a laughter yoga class in your local area. At first it may feel uncomfortable and forced, but that’s a normal reaction.
Gentle exercise, especially when shared with others, is often good fun too.
It doesn’t have to be competitive – that’s a personal decision: some people find competition fun, some don’t. Go with your gut.
Whatever you do for fun, make it regular – at least once a week.
MAKE SELF-CARE A DAILY HABIT
Self-care is being written about here, there and everywhere for a reason: it’s not just a cliché or a passing fad.
It’s a very broad term to cover the actions that keep your mind and body healthy.
Here are 12 suggestions for valuable self-care that anyone can do:
- Face up to basic responsibilities, like booking doctors and dentist appointments;
- Keep your receipts for tax time. Your self-esteem will grow, and you will feel more in control;
- Exercise at least 3 times a week, even if you can’t face high-intensity activity. Just go for regular walks;
- Don’t eat mindlessly, think about your food. Avoid huge servings, especially late at night. Eat more vegetables than processed foods. Sugary snacks and drinks are not your friends! They are bad for your teeth and lead to weight gain;
- Go to bed on time and at the same time each night. 7-8 hours’ sleep is about right, less or more might negatively impact your health;
- Do a quick mindfulness exercise each day. Guided meditations are easiest and often freely available on YouTube or apps;
- Get out of your own head by helping others. No really, try it – it works.
- Always have something to look forward to a holiday, a dinner, a movie, a concert, especially something that ‘makes the heart sing’;
- Find a community you identify with – separate from work and family – and connect with them at least once a week.
- Reach out to trusted friends when you feel lonely. It’s nevera burden to hear from a friend expressing their vulnerability, it actually builds trust.
- Set aside an hour each week for honest self-reflection: look at your progress with your finances and on your goals, assess your self-care and bad habits, estimate your screen time. Are you having enough fun? Or too much? Are you wrestling with things you can’t change? Record these facts, thoughts and feelings in the same place each week.
- Don’t forget to be positive, grateful and kind to yourself!
SET GOALS FOR 2022
Just setting a few modest goals can have positive impacts on our mental wellbeing, as well as the more obvious benefits that come from even partially achieving them.
It’s important to not overwhelm your list with a ‘to-do’ list aimed at transforming every area of your life. That is a recipe for beating yourself up.
But you should put some thought and some detail into the few that you do come up with.
The SMART acronym – Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Action-oriented), Realistic (or Relevant) and Timely – is a popular, effective and useful tool for goal setting.
Here are some steps for goal setting:
- Reflect on what you have learnt from 2021;
- Reflect on what worked well for you in 2021;
- Try to remember what your goals were this time last year – are they still relevant?
- Think about what story you’d love to tell about your life at the end of 2022;
- Brainstorm 6-10 ideas for goals, some hard, some easy (make a couple of these related to your finances);
- Trim that list back to 3-4 that feel right and/or really important (don’t pick the 3-4 most difficult!);
- Apply the SMART acronym to each;
- For long-term goals, make sure you break them down into smaller goals, e.g. “To save $20,000 and invest” can’t be achieved quickly for someone on an average income. For most people it would only be possible with a series of smaller goals, such as:
- Calculate how much you need to save each week to reach your savings goal;
- Make a realistic budget of all your expenses;
- Work out how much income you need each week to reach the savings goal;
- Adjust the savings target if necessary;
- Evaluate your progress after 1 week, 3 and 6 weeks. Make necessary adjustments; and
- Seek help and advice on investment options.
Some general tips on goal-setting:
- Goals work best when they are clear and specific;
- Having several highly ambitious goals is probably not realistic;
- Having at least one challenging goal has positives and negatives, but produce better overall results than having only modest goals;
- Goals need to be reviewed regularly and adjusted accordingly; and
- When you evaluate your progress and find you are on track, give yourself a modest reward, but not one that undermines your efforts so far.