By Jennifer Perri

If you are like me, you were happy to see 2020 come to a close. As we all welcome 2021 (with open arms), I want to take this opportunity to help you understand the difference between making resolutions and setting goals. When you make a resolution, you commit to either doing or not doing something. But when you set a goal, you are creating the desired result at a future point in time. A goal involves stages—planning, forming habits, and taking action to eventually reach your goal. So when you think about making resolutions for 2021, consider setting goals for the new year.

In this article, I will share with you some of the reasons resolutions fail and provide you with some insight on why it is better to set goals for yourself.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

It may come as no surprise that the two most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are losing weight/exercise more and save money/get out of debt. As I mentioned before, a resolution is a “do this” or “don’t do that,” whereas a goal is something that requires planning before execution. It requires time and commitment. A lot of people want the change to happen in an instant, causing most resolutions to fail. In fact, eighty percent of resolutions fail within the first month of the year.

Weight loss is a great way to understand how change is sustainable when done gradually. One of my goals in life is to become healthier, which included losing weight. I realized that at the beginning I had a lot of weight to lose so to set myself up for success, I broke it into small goals and made incremental changes.  The first thing I did was to start to drink water. I gradually added more and more water each day and before I knew it, I had lost 60 pounds in four and a half month, with that one small change. If I had simply made a resolution to lose weight and didn’t lay out a plan and strategy to reach my goal, I would have given up like many people do. I continued on to make incremental changes which allowed me to lose over a hundred pounds in less than a year. It’s all about baby steps and laying out a plan to achieve a goal.

Saving money or paying off debt works in the same way, and I take the same approach with my clients. We discuss the goals they have, develop a plan, and create action steps. For example, if your goal is to save money and you visit Starbucks every morning, perhaps reduce those coffee visits to every other day. Take the money you save and put it into a savings account or an envelope or somewhere out of sight. As a master financial coach, I teach classes and when we discuss being able to save money, I often here from my students, “I don’t have any room in my budget to save any money!” It is all about prioritizing what’s important. When I review budgets with clients, there is almost always a way to cut corners and find money to save.

Have Confidence in Yourself

The second most common reason people fail to keep their resolutions is that they don’t have confidence in themselves. Maybe they set the same resolution year after year and they still fail. Why is that? Because there is no action plan in place. A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. Doubt can also be a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed in the past to make a change? This year set that goal and work toward it.

Keep in mind that when first working toward your desired result, you might be putting in the work without seeing much benefit. But don’t wait until you achieve your goal to feel great about the steps you are taking toward reaching it. Keep yourself motivated by celebrating your progress.

Surround Yourself with Positive Support

Another reason why many people have failed resolutions is that they don’t surround themselves with positive support. Make sure that you have supportive friends and family in your life. It’s difficult to stay motivated if you’re doing something alone. Even though we are all currently living in a “virtual” environment due to the global pandemic, reach out and share your goals with your social network, whether it be via Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Maybe creating an accountability partnership with a coach who benefit you? If you have a set a financial goal for 20201, I’m currently offering accountability partnerships for both existing and new clients. I personally have a coach and mentor in my life, so you must find someone who will hold you accountable (sometimes you need that extra push)!

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

A smart goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

As you set goals, keep in mind that everything takes time. Anything valuable, meaningful, or impactful you want to accomplish in life takes consistent effort.

Remember—You Can Do It

As you set out on the journey toward your goals, there is ample support around you. There are no excuses for not embracing 2021 and making it the year you want it to be. I encourage you to set smart goals and surround yourself with positive, encouraging, Empowering people!

My Facebook group, Buck Naked Money, was created for women to have candid conversations about money. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at Jennifer@swanfinancialadvisors.com. If you loved this blog, you’ll love my Smart Money Gal podcast from January 4, 2021.