New Year's Resolutions? Fuhgeddaboudit!
We've all heard the usual New Year's Resolutions. The two that probably top the list are "get in shape" and "lose weight."
Those of you that participated or just knew of our "Compound Effect" contest back in 2015, know that small changes, both positive as well as negative, can have a big long term impact on our lives. One of the "contestants" lost a significant amount of weight. Another went from a being able to do only a few pushups to doing hundreds during the week, and another I recall, wrote consistently.
Drinking one less can of soda a day can equate to about 15lbs of weight loss in a year. Conversely, drinking a can of soda a day could put 15lbs on.
You see, habits, both good and bad, over time, can have impact. Spending $15 a day on coffee, lunch, etc. each workday or putting $15 each workday day in savings can do two very different things (Interestingly, they both cost the same). If one spends $15 a day five days a week that equates to about $3,900 a year. If I told you to save $3,900 a year that might seem daunting but when we do those small steps, it's the compound effect in action. What could you do with an extra $3,900 a year? (Or even better, an extra $3,900 a year growing over the next 10 years.)1
Sounds like a pretty nice vacation perhaps. Maybe pay off an evil credit card?
Okay, so should you have New Year's Resolutions? No. Let's call them habits as resolutions haven't really worked for most. Do you know when new memberships are highest at gyms? You guessed it. In December and January. People are all gung ho to get in shape and when do we start? In January! A new year! A new chance!
Here's what I think is a better idea. Pick something you want to change. Maybe it is eating better or getting in better shape. (These kind of go hand in hand anyway).
The first key is to start small. Been sitting on the sofa for five years? You shouldn't get up tomorrow and run a marathon. Been eating at McDonalds every day your whole life? I don't recommend becoming a vegan the next day. It's just too hard and sets us up for failure.
Here's what's worked for me. Bear in mind, I'm only human and have fallen down a few times. Okay, more than a few but the key is to get up and start again the next day. Don't wait until Monday (Unless of course you fell down on a Sunday)
Let's say I wanted to lose 15 lbs. With the old "New Year's Resolution" method, the conversation could go like this:
Rick: "I'm going to lose 15 lbs!"
Morty: "Okay, how are you going to do that (and by when?) ? "
Rick: "Well, I'm going to exercise and eat better. I don't know by "when". How could I know that?"
Morty: "Okay, that's a start but what will that look like?"
Rick: "I don't know. I guess I'll try to get some exercise in and eat better."
Morty: Eating better and exercise are two key components of weight loss but it seems a bit vague to me."
Rick: Okay then, I'll go to the gym 5 days a week and cut out going to McDonalds."
Morty: Going to the gym 5 days a week when you haven't done much may be a bit much".
I suggest, instead of this method, let's try the following: (and by the way, it works for pretty much any goal.) Want to write a book, Learn a new language?, Retire a year earlier?
Let's go back to Rick's goal of losing weight. Oh yeah, and here's a secret. These goals should be SMART goals. What's a SMART goal? Goals should incorporate the following. SMART goals is an acronym:
Let's use walking for exercise as an example. Remember, you aren't making that usual blanket resolution of "I'm going to exercise more or get in shape." It's too vague and without a plan, is meaningless.
My tips for success:
- Start small. I can't emphasize this enough. Even if it seems like you can do more, don't. Start with a period of time that is reasonable for you. Been sedentary for years? Maybe start with 10 minutes on the treadmill or around the block if weather permits three times a week. Somewhat active but it's been awhile? Start with 20 minutes or so. By the way, it's always a good idea to talk to your doc and get the go ahead on starting an exercise program.
- Be consistent. Try to pick the same time every day. When you "wing it", the odds are against you before you even start. For me, mornings are best as my days can go pretty long and I know myself. The last thing I want to do at 7 pm is think about exercising.
- Get a buddy. This doesn't have to be someone physically in the room with you but if so, all the better. My sister and I text each other every morning for some accountability and to keep each other away from those excuses like, "I'm tired or it's cold out". Even though she lives in another state, when we were training to climb Mt. Katahdin a few years ago, we talked to each other every day, rain or shine as we walked "together"
- Miss a day? So what? There are plenty more days as long as you pick up where you left off.
- Make it easy. If you have to look for your sneakers for an hour or can't find your special BPA free water bottle, it isn't going to happen. Get what you need together the night before.
- Try to go to bed the same time each night so you are well rested.
- Tell others about your goal (preferably someone positive)
There are a multitude of books out there ( A really good one is "Atomic Habits" by James Clear) You can check it out HERE
Incorporating small habits into your life will get you closer to your goal. Whether that is losing weight, eating healthier, learning an instrument, or being more financially fit, it is all at your fingertips. Is 2022 the year you will make some positive changes? It can be.
Not sure where to start? Feel free to reach out to me and I'm glad to help.
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1Not an investment recommendation. Simply an illustration of regular savings over time
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