How to Set New Year’s Resolutions and Achieve Them

Happy New Year!  At this time, people often make resolutions to lose weight, save money, spend more time with family, quit smoking, get more exercise, and do better in general.  A few weeks later, their good intentions fall apart. Why not make 2018 different by trying the following six-step approach to tackling your financial goals?

Write Down What You Want to Accomplish and When– For example, if your goal is to save $3,000 during the first six months of the year, write down “I will save $3,000 by June 30, 2018.”  This goal is measurable.

Develop an Action Plan-Ask yourself: What steps do I need to take to reach this goal? For example, if you plan to save $500 a month for the next six months, you might reduce certain household expenses.

Identify Obstacles– Write them down.  Beside each obstacle, list 2-3 ways to overcome the obstacle.  If your goal is to save money, obstacles could be lack of an automated savings plan and/or family members who encourage you to spend instead of save.

Identify Resources Are there books you could read that might help?  Could you join a group of people who are working toward the same goal?  Are there opportunities for automatic savings at your place of employment?

Give Yourself Small Rewards– As you reach milestones toward reaching your goal, think of ways to give yourself encouragement (e.g., something you like, a special treat, and/or spending time with people you enjoy).

Evaluate and Adjust-If you don’t reach one of your milestones, re-group, but don’t give up.  See what is working and what is not and adjust your plans. Evaluate how you spend your time, energy, and money. 

To set financial goals for 2018, with a date and a dollar cost, use this Rutgers Cooperative Extension worksheet.

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