Did you accomplish what you wanted for 2018?
Last January, I suggested some practical tasks to help you get on track financially. But even with the best intentions, you may have fallen off the wagon at some point. Don’t fret. The new year is around the corner, and today I want to give you three simple steps you can take to help you get things done in 2019.
Step 1: Find out if you’re ready for change
Advice that Sticks: How to Give Financial Advice That People Will Follow by Dr. Moira Somers has some terrific insights into why people change—and don’t change—their behavior. The book draws on research into behavioral finance, neuroscience and positive psychology to develop effective strategies for change.
Dr. Somers points out that when people don’t follow through on good advice, it’s not because they don’t understand it. It’s because they have trouble implementing it. In other words, no matter how great the advice I give, if it’s not something clients can easily act on, it’s useless to them.
One of the most interesting chapters discusses how crucial it is that clients are ready for change. And this applies whether you giving, getting or following your own advice. Dr. Somers offers three simple readiness questions that test your desire for change:
- Readiness Question 1: Given what you said you wanted to accomplish, what do you think should happen as a result?
- Readiness Question 2: If you decide to carry out this next step, how would it benefit you?
- Readiness Question 3: If you decide to go ahead with this step, how confident are you that you could do it?
By asking yourself these questions, you can ensure that you’re ready to take on the next challenge. Additionally, it allows you to focus on the next right step to take to get what you want done.
Step 2: Put your phone away
Seriously. It’s making you dumber. This Smarter Living article in the NY Times references a 2017 study in the Journal of the Association of Consumer Research that found the mere presence of your phone “reduces available cognitive capacity.” I repeat— the mere presence. So it doesn’t matter if it’s off or flipped over, your cognitive performance is reduced just by having it near you.
If that weren’t enough, Simon Sinek tells us that cell phones limit our creativity and ability to engage in the world around us. Simply putting your phone away will give you the ability to get more done and find creative solutions to the problems you’re trying to solve. So put it away! (Slowly slips phone into desk drawer.)
Step 3: Take tasks one at a time
I’ve already implemented this last step with my clients, and it’s worked really well. Take tasks one at a time. Rather than trying to get your financial life in order, lose weight and start a new spiritual practice in 2019, start with one thing you would really like to accomplish.
The more specific you are, the better your chances of success. For instance, don’t aim to “get my financial house in order.” Instead, say you’ll create a budget for yourself. Then break that goal into sub-steps, such as 1) getting an accurate income figure, 2) creating sub-buckets for where you want your money to go and 3) prioritizing your spending in each bucket. Knock them off one by one.
Advice that Sticks further recommends that you set a date for completing each task. Write down this goal and why you think it will help you (back to the readiness in tip one). Once the time frame is up, check on the task and proceed to what you want to tackle next. You can also enlist a partner to help keep you on track.
Remember, you don’t have to change everything at once. Pick a few concrete, achievable goals, and focus on them. You’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment as you get them done.
I hope these three tips help make it easier to accomplish what you really want for the New Year. Here’s to a happy and productive 2019!