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With just over two months left in the year, now would be a good time to take a review of the resolutions and goals that would have been established when we were all excited about the new year and the brand-new person that would evolve on January 1.
This person would have been empowered to break years, even decades of old habits that we’ve been previously unable to conquer.
For some, changed behavior is a bit more difficult than just mind over matter.
Each year, with the best of intentions, we set financial and personal goals that we are unable to follow through, resulting in disappointment and lack of progress. The following are a few tips that would hopefully help in getting on the right track:
- Acknowledge Your Limits
Many of us envision ourselves as having more capabilities than we actually possess, even though there is little to no historical evidence to support this. If we are habitually late sleepers, over eaters, or over spenders, it is unlikely that a future version of ourselves will overcome this without some change to our current pattern.
Honestly identifying and acknowledging the areas that we struggle with, even if only with ourselves, is the first step in making things better.
- Examine Your Weaknesses
Once we have identified that weakness, we need to examine the patterns that cause us to fall back into these old habits.
If exercise is on your hit list but you lead a hectic lifestyle that leaves little time to squeeze in an hour at your local gym, is it possible to squeeze in a 15 minute walk? Or to park at the back of the carpark when you arrive at work? Or to take the stairs as opposed to heading to the elevator?
These small habits and changes can be a gateway into developing bigger and better habits once you have them under your built, rather than aiming for large targets and feeling overwhelmed and dejected when they are not achieved.
- Educate Yourself
Many times, we have the view that there is only one way to get things done. If we want to save money, we automatically think of using a financial institution or meeting turn. If we want to go on a diet, we hop on to the latest diet fad that seems to be working for everyone else.
When these traditional or ‘well known’ means of achieving a goal do not work for us, we then give up on the process altogether. However, this may be the time to look into alternative means of reaching our goals.
The Internet has a wealth of information for us to consider. There are trusted institutions which offer valuable and at times, free information that can help us to identify different means of achieving our goals that we may not have previously considered.
- Check in With Your Progress
In the same way that you check in with your children on their progress at school, we need to check in with ourselves to identify the progress we have made since we established our goals.
Again, technology is our friend. There are many apps that help us to establish daily, weekly, or even quarterly reminders to keep at our goals or to identify the progress made.
Personally, my calendar app is my best friend to establish reminders about the work I need to put in to achieve the goals that I have established for myself throughout the year. It keeps me focused and on track without having to rely on my shaky memory, especially for habits I am now trying to develop.
- Encourage Yourself
Finally, we need to encourage ourselves along this journey as we try new things. Sometimes we can be our harshest critics, without fully understanding how difficult it is to break old habits.
Reminding yourself as to why you set the goals in the first place is also key.
If you need a new vehicle because your old one constantly breaks down or public transportation has become a hassle, keep that goal in mind whenever you have a financial decision to make. Is this purchase I am about to make worth setting back my goal?
Is this cheat meal worth the additional weight I know it will add on?
Is staying up late and binge watching this series going to help me to pass the exams that I need to complete if I want to progress in my chosen career?
By all means, personal time should be taken to engage in these activities as they bring personal satisfaction and mental ease; however, these questions should be asked when they run the risk of breaking your newly formed habits.
*Krystle Howell, CPA, CIA, COSO, ALMI, ACS, aka Mavis, is an Internal Auditor by profession, avid artist and a lover of dance.