New Year’s Resolutions

I love the idea of New Year’s Resolutions: turning over a new leaf, wiping the slate clean, starting again with a new positive frame of mind. In order to stick to your resolutions you need a plan. You know what you want to achieve, but how are you going to achieve it? If you break it into bite-sized chunks and look at each one individually this can make it less intimidating and more achievable.

At the turn of the New Millennium my friend decided to give up smoking. He was seriously addicted. He had been smoking since he was 13, when he used to steal his parents’ fags. He had tried to give up before, many times, but never lasted more than a few weeks. Everybody in his family had smoked, but due to various illnesses they were all slowly giving up or trying to.

He didn’t make a big fuss about it this time. At the turn of midnight he chucked all his remaining tobacco in the bin, and resolved not to smoke for the whole of the next day. The day after that, he did the same. After a week, he continued, each morning telling himself ‘I won’t smoke just for today’. A year later, he could tell you exactly how many days he hadn’t smoked for, and was confident enough to call himself an ex-smoker.

I thought this was a great approach; breaking the goal down into achievable chunks to make it more manageable. Each day he didn’t smoke was an achievement in itself and a step towards his ultimate goal.

You could do this to achieve anything. Have an ultimate goal – to get your spending in check and pay off your debts, for example. Your mini goals towards this could be: I won’t buy anything today that isn’t necessary for my survival; I will get a better deal on my energy bills; I will set up a standing order to pay £xx off my credit card each month; I will set a weekly budget for food spending and stick to it; I will put away money for annual expenditure such as car tax, MOT costs, Christmas and birthdays – whatever works for you. As you achieve your goals  on a daily, weekly or monthly basis your resolve will grow stronger as you see your ultimate aim getting closer.

I broadly know my resolutions for 2014 – to be debt free and build up a cushion for a rainy day. To achieve this I will explore ways to earn more income – I already have a new yoga class starting in January to catch those who have resolved to get fitter, and have some other ideas developing too, including selling quite a lot on Ebay; I will save £180 a month towards my annual expenses; I will continue to plan each week’s meals and stick to my shopping budget but will make them as healthy as possible; I won’t buy anything that isn’t essential, and will make sure I get the best deal and have the money to pay for it before I do; I will pay off the small amount I still owe on my credit card.

After that, we shall see. I will continue to record my progress in this blog, so you can check I am doing the right thing and give me a kick if it looks as if I am faltering and have been on a spending spree somewhere!