It’s not too early to start working on your New Year’s resolutions for 2011. Hopefully, becoming or remaining debt free is one of those resolutions.
Lots of folks say New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time, and they break their resolutions in a week or two, so why bother? Well, a defeatist attitude like will get you nowhere fast. A better idea is to put some time into developing your New Year’s resolutions, and making progress throughout the year instead of finding a reason to throw in the towel.
This the first in a series of posts with a few ideas to keep in mind when creating your resolutions.
Let’s use some financial resolutions to examine. What a coincidence!
But first…. Try this. Find yourself a notebook, or loose leaf binder, and make it your New Years Resolution Book. You can get as fancy or as simple as you like. Into this book will go your resolutions, plans, thoughts, time lines and progress reports as you go through the year. Why? Well, its simple.
If you cannot commit to writing it down, and reviewing it periodically, how can you possibly be committed to getting it done?
Setting it up on the computer using online tools is great, and I’ll give you some resources for that later on, but studies have shown that the actual act of writing it down, long hand , with a pencil or pen gives your mind a boost in the “commitment” department. (Yes, I am paraphrasing – those aren’t medical or psychological terms- and if they were, would it mean more to you? I doubt it. Its got something to do with “kinaesthetic memory”)
Most of us do so much typing at a keyboard that the brain effect is minimal. I seldom remember what I have typed even when at the end of a post. But when I write it out long hand, my subconscious knows what I wrote. Many times I have found that when I write a “to do” list with pen and paper, I get everything on my list done, without ever needing to refer to the paper! This never happens when I type it out.
Enough about that…let’s get started making sensible new Year’s resolutions.
Is it Achievable?
One of the first things to determine when developing your resolutions is, are these resolutions actually achievable in a year’s time, or should I break the resolution down to smaller more manageable goals. This should be a no-brainer, but some people make the mistake of aiming for the moon, knowing they won’t get there, and will have an easy excuse to quit.
If your goal is to become completely debt free in 2011, but you have a $250k mortgage, $24k in credit card debt, and a monthly income of around $6k – chances are you are not going to get there.
A better resolution might be to set a goal of reducing your credit card debt by $X – pick a number that you think you can achieve. Not something you can get done in a week or two, but a debt reduction goal that will actually challenge you. The benefit will be much greater in dollars, and the thrill of accomplishment and achieving measurable progress that will help you get out of debt is a great feeling that can carry your forward to even larger challenges.
Stay Tuned for the next part in the series… but don’t let that stop you from getting started on some ideas for your own resolutions. Written out. Long hand!
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.