Given the start of the New Year it seems almost cliché to write a blog post about resolutions to make for 2016. While making resolutions is not a bad thing, I thought I’d spend some time talking about an arguably more important aspect to resolutions; and that is taking action.
To help make some sense with the article I thought I’d share a personal experience. When I was in college I was considerably overweight. Between my junior and senior year I lost quite a bit of weight – about 75 pounds. I was never overweight growing up; I had just let poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle get the best of me.
After the weight came off, several friends and family members asked me what I did and what my secret was. Really, there was no secret. It was simply eating less and exercising more. However, I became infatuated with my diet and exercise and began to research and study more about how to live a healthier lifestyle. As I put what I was learning into my own practice, friends and family members began to ask me if I would put what I learned together in an easy-to-follow format (a written plan if you will) so that they could follow the program and hopefully obtain similar results.
Unfortunately, some of the people that wanted help lost their enthusiasm, stopped following their plan and gave up. Then, at certain times of the year (say, when making a New Year’s resolution) they would come back and ask me to write a new plan for them so they could get back on track and live a healthier lifestyle. My answer, to their surprise, was no.
The reason why wasn’t to be rude or unaccommodating. It was the fact that nothing had changed. In other words, the plan I had given them previously was just as effective and would help them live a healthier lifestyle. The problem was whether or not they would take action and utilize the information in the plan.
The same is true for many other goals and resolutions including personal finance. The best financial plan in the world is completely useless unless action is taken to implement the steps in the plan. A resolution to save for retirement is meaningless unless action is taken to physically have the money from your paycheck invested in your 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan. Resolving to pay off debt without taking action to pay down the debt is useless. You get the point.
So while I’d love to write a post on resolutions for 2016, I think it’s more important to write about taking your same resolutions from 2015 and years past and finally acting on them. So this year, instead of making a list of financial resolutions, make a list of action steps you’re going to take to make those resolutions happen.