New Year’s thoughts
As we step into a new year, many of us will spend time reflecting on the events that occurred in our lives over the past 12 months. Hopefully this brings a smile to your face, and you come away feeling like 2015 was rewarding and successful. Some people, however, may regret not meeting all their 2015 New Year’s resolutions or goals. And others might regret not even setting any at all.
Unfortunately, some things are simply outside of your control, like the weather, the passing of a family member or friend and the stock market. Your decisions and actions, on the other hand, are under your control and can make all the difference in what you achieve in 2016.
When you look back at your successes, think about how they occurred. Most likely you took time to evaluate where you were, where you wanted to be, and then set a plan in motion for getting there. The plan had to be specific, and you probably needed to take clear steps every day to move forward.
If you have a goal for 2016, it can indeed start as a wish as you toast in the New Year. But in the days that follow, turn that wish into a written plan with very specific actions to take by certain dates. If your goal is too broad or too vague, things won’t happen.
Feeling in control can make a huge difference, and getting control means having information. If you want to get out of debt and save more money, you first need to understand your financial situation. Create a budget and document your income and expenses. Find a method that works well for you. That can mean pen and paper, using a program such as Quicken or Quickbooks or trying out Mint.com. Once you see in black and white where all your money went in 2015, you can develop a roadmap for this year.
Involve your family and get their assistance in the process. Your spouse and children will need to know what is required of them for the family to be successful. Cutting back on spending will be a group effort. If you save $500 this month on clothing and groceries only to have your spouse blow $1,000 on a new TV, you will quickly be discouraged. Work together and make the goal a family challenge with small successes celebrated along the way.
Solicit outside help when needed. If your path to success means you need to make more money, figure out what sub-steps that will entail. If there are opportunities for a promotion within your current company, meet with the HR department and find out what you can do. Do you need more training or to switch careers in order to progress? Start investigating and talk to people who can help you move forward. Don’t be afraid to invest time and money to get to the place you want to be.
Taking control and knowing you have a plan to meet your goals can feel like lifting a 20-pound weight off your shoulders. And every action or step you take toward your goal will seem to lift another pound or two. By this time next year, you could be a new person if you get started today.
This commentary originally appeared January 1 on TheCasperStarTribune.com
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