Looking at my 2019 resolutions for 2020, I guess I am going to change my yearly family traditions of making new year resolutions.
This year has made us all realize that resolutions can go out the window when a Pandemic strikes. Agree it happens once a decade ( or two- don’t quote me on that- I like to be optimistic) but still from 2021, I want to start taking actions than resolutions or planning.
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New Take on New Year Resolutions in 2021
I want to take a different spin on the topic of the resolution this year. In fact, I want to rename it as 2021 kick-ass habits. If you are new here- know that I like to name all my goals weirdly- so that they will sound odd to you but they make sense to me and my family.
There is a reason for that, resolutions by themselves don’t work if they are not supported by actionable habits. Since resolutions cover all areas of your life, it is a more generic- big picture thing. It includes your personal life, healthy, family/relationships, career, education, friends, networking, hobbies, self-care, spirituality and how can I forget ” Wealth”.
Here is a FREE New resolution printable by yours truly.
Notice how I introduced the quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily action plans for those resolutions?
There are 2 additional rows for those of you who like to hoard resolutions and goals!
For me, 4 goals are just fine. No more and nothing gets done!
Unless you have one solid habit set for each of these areas of your life, your new year resolutions will look fancy in January but they will soon gather dust by mid-May.
So what habits, do you want to cultivate ( seriously I don’t like this word anymore- but since the gurus talk about it all the time, I’ll stick with it for ya)?
You can include many good habits like exercise daily, drink more water, DON’T drinks more alcohol, quit smoking ( really in 2020 you are still smoking? wake up!), cook daily, Don’t eat junk, Read more, Do not complain more, etc.
I wrote an entire article on habits about money-saving- check it out here.
Pick any habit you want to start, think about it long and hard. Take the help from tinyhabits if you need more ideas.
But whatever you pick,
Always create SMART goals for each habit. Without the outcome of the habit, you will not be motivated to continue on any of those tiny habits.
What are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are not really goals- It is a formula that works to achieve any goal. It has been working for those who practice it diligently. But the beauty is it also works for lazy people like me. Hence the productivity gurus keep talking about it. You have been ignoring them because it sounds really fancy and complicated? Or you think it needs so much work? and why would you put more work into making your already unreachable goals harder to reach?
Well, the good news is this formula is a lifesaver for lazy people. Here’s a really short overview for ya:
1. SPECIFIC –
If your goal is not Specific and Precise, your brain fails to retain its importance long enough. That is why a vague goal like I want to lose weight in 2019 never really helped you lose that stub-burn weight and now in 2021, you still want to add it to your new year resolutions. Here is tough love for you. If it didn’t help you in 2010 and 2020, reformulate that goal for 2021. Spell it out very precisely and also add a strong reason for that goal. Add your personal WHY for achieving that goal. It will benefit if you attach an emotional value to the goal. When days get harder and they will in 2021, your emotions will bring you back to your goals- and then habit- and finally victory. For me, I need to lose 15 lbs by December 31st, 2021 because it made me lazy, cranky, and irritating wife to my lovely hubby. He deserved a happy, loving, and appreciating wife. One another goal for you can be to save $10000/- in 2021. It is also one of my goals, but my reason is I want to have a safety net for at least 3 months for a tougher economy. Read how I’m planning for this goal below.
Using affirmative language always helps in achieving new year resolutions. There is a study done on this very matter- A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. If you are not able to recall the exact description of your goal, it will be hard to meet it. Take the time to do this part right.
2. MEASURABLE –
This is simple. If you can measure your efforts, you know you are either going to achieve your goal or going far far away from your per-decided goal. I can’t stress enough importance to it. I am talking (Nah writing) from my own experiences. I had to write more in 2020. That was my goal really. No specifics, no data nothing. Look where it got me? I barely have any writing to show for 2020. This is where the Journal comes into play.
A journal is essentially a report card where you can document your progress, your obstacles and add multiple reminders ( self-talk) to continue forward in spite of a few setbacks along the way. It is for lack of a better term- a method to measure what you want to accomplish by when and what you have actually accomplished over a period of time. If your goal cannot be quantified, then it’s not a full goal and you won’t know how or when you have succeeded. An example of a measurable goal for my frugal family would be “I want to save 100 dollars per week into our savings bank account. I’ll accomplish this by setting up automatic savings on Monday for the next year. Once set, I will forget about it and not tap into this savings account for any random purchases”
3. ACTIONABLE / ACHIEVABLE/ ACCOUNTABLE
There are different things that “A” can stand for, but it’s usually actionable or achievable, or even accountable. If you have set new year resolutions in January and have forgotten about them by March, it is most likely because those resolutions were not tied to specific measurable actions. Or those actions may not have been achievable i.e you set out with a real big massive mega goal that takes more than a year to accomplish. E.g Retire in one year and become totally independent. Yeah- these kinds of goals look nice and Big but they take some time to achieve.
In order to achieve anything, you must take dedicated focused action. So, make your goal actionable, where you do something each day or each week and it will eventually result in an accomplished goal. When you know where your goal is leading you, it gives you the motivation to continue working on it without getting frustrated. E.g My goal is to be financially independent by the time we are in our 50s. So every year, we are working towards that goal. Some years can be good but some years can be very slow like this 2020 year. But slowly we are working towards our ultimate goal because we know that it is achievable. Goals should also be achievable or you will quickly get frustrated. Be accurate about the time it takes to reach a goal, and what actions it takes to get there.
Another part very few people mention is accountability. For any goal to achieve, you must know who is responsible for it, who needs to be accountable for it, and who needs to be informed about it. A typical HR professional will understand what I’m talking about ( again- why do I always write that when I’m not talking to you). Anyway, when you share your goals with your close people, it is more likely to motivate you to achieve them. For some goals like finances and health, it is great to include other people who will help you achieve your goals jointly. E.g If I want to save $10000/- by December 2021, both me and hubby are responsible for saving money every week. Both of us need to be on the same page. Else, some weeks we will save and some weeks we will just go out and spend whatever we saved. Ditto for health goal aka resolution. If I need to lose 15 lbs, I know I can’t join my hubby or friends and family for a pizza party every other week. They need to be informed about my goal, so they will support me and get the hint to cook something healthy for me. Are you reading my friends and family? Just kidding.
4. REALISTIC / RELEVANT
“R” stands for realistic or relevant. I include both because they both are important. If you want your goal to succeed, it should most certainly be realistic for you, your life situation, and season or you will fail. For example, if you’re currently making $500 a week and your goal is to increase that to $10,000 in 60 days, that’s not realistic unless you win a lottery or get a sudden family inheritance from Uncle Joe. If that’s the case, congratulations ( sorry Uncle Joe- RIP).
However, you may be able to increase it by $100 or $200 more in 2021. If you read this blog and are taking some serious action to increase your income, it is very much possible to earn $100 extra per week ( no promises made though). Once you achieve that goal and are earning $600- $700 a week, you can set a new goal to increase your income by another $200 a week or something similar.
Your goal should also be relevant to your life’s purpose and it must match your values. There’s no point in blindly following the gurus and hyperactive business-minded multi-millionaires if their lifestyle and its stress are what you can not stand. Your goals and resolutions should be relevant to your life, your family, and your season of life. There is a time to study hard, work hard and party hard. But there is also a time to relax, wind down, nurture relations, and build up strong healthy babies. After all, they are our responsibility. So always ask yourself, if the goal is relevant to your life goals.
5. TIME BOUND / TIMELY / TRACKABLE –
This is the most important letter in the SMART goals. Time is all that we have. Once gone, it’s gone. It is a real currency really. You saw what I did there:?
If you don’t set a definite time limit for your goal aka resolution and you can’t track what is happening throughout your journey, your goal will be hard to quantify by end of 2021.
To help you work through and create S.M.A.R.T. goals, download the quick guide and worksheet below.
What 2021 resolutions look like for our Frugal family?
If you have been reading this blog for a while you know this blog is all about saving money, getting out of debt, and staying out of debt, all my 2021 actions are revolved around money. Well not all, but most. Without a substantial saving, all other actions can not be accomplished wisely.
1. Continue downsizing.
So money is a very important part of our 2021 goals. Besides that, this year we both want to further downsize our lives. We would like to retire early before we have to. And that means the less stuff we own, the easier life will be when we retire. We have already sold our single-family home and downsized from 5000 sq ft property to under 800 sq ft so far. But there are still many things we can let go of. Kitchen items are difficult for me to let go of. But just this year, we made a smart decision to invest in an instant pot finally. That has freed up my kitchen space because I sold our slow cookers- one 6 qt and one tiny 2 compartments slow cooker, I also sold our bread maker, yogurt maker, and 1 traditional pressure cooker.
This year, we want to downsize more books, clothes, projects, and also our resolutions 🙂
2. Accept the change!
What I mean is this year, in 2021, we both want to be ready to accept the new changes. I’m a freaking change management professional for crying out loud. If I cant accept and adapt to change who will? We also want to be satisfied with now and yet make our now worthwhile. Speaking of living in the now, I have been meaning to read Ekhart Tolle’s The Power of Now since 2018. This right here is my new goal in 2021.
Another main focus for this year will be to notice the miracles around us. I’m not crazy guys, I know in spite of the crazy pandemic, we all have seen some wonderful miracles happening around the world. My go-to book for doing this in 2021 is A Course In Miracle. It is also sitting on my bookshelf shelf since last year.
On that topic of downsizing, I have to finally let go of my books and arrange our library neatly so that I can actually see the books and read them this year.
While I’m downsizing, I want to continue practicing gratitude every single day- even if means thanking the man upstairs for giving me another day to live and practice my kick-ass habits.
Get my one good thing a day gratitude journal here.
3. No more waiting!
I want to stop waiting for things to happen in my life, no more waiting. Only doing in 2021. Life can’t wait for any one of us anymore. Go out, walk barefoot, love more, express more, hug more, forgive more, breath more, take more breaks during the day. These are the only MORE things I will say you should all strive to do in 2021. Everything else is a 2nd priority. that means do less busywork, less running after errands that take up your whole day. Just be careful about how to call these resolutions- our body understands every word well and always works on giving us more of that. So phrase your resolutions well with affirmative verbs.
4. Listen to my body every day
Give yourself the permission to choose what makes sense to you and your body. Take that awesome body you’ve got. It served you so well so far- especially during a pandemic,. Learn to take care of it and listen to it every day. Pick up bit-sized things to do and chew them well- including your food. I remember an ex-manager of mine who would proudly tell all newcomers in the company ” bit off more than you can chew”. guess what happened to her in 4 years of doing that- excess constipation- and by that, I mean career constipation!
5. Choose how and who I spend my energy with.
What I mean by that is don’t second guess on chucking the goals that never serve you or your family. If that means hosting dinners every month for an annoying family member! While you are doing this, also don’t forget to re-look at how some relationships lift you up and how some drag you down. Let go of ones that just make you pull out your hair. I love how Kendra Adachi talks about how to be a ” genius about the things that matter and lazy about things that don’t”.
And if you know me, I am lazy but I also like to call myself a genius. And Kendra spoke with me through this book. She literally writes the book for me and those of you who are like me!
6. Prepare for Disasters with basic emergency tools and foods
If you have been listening to the prepper’s community and some news ( even though many of them are fake these days), you all agree that we all need to have some basic tools and shelf-stable foods for any emergent situations like natural disaster or pandemic. so, in 2021 we want to get a little better at it than in 2020- that means growing more of our food at home, freezing, canning, and drying the fresh produce, and get some good survival skills like fishing and hunting ( not sure if I can ever do it- but necessity is the mother of all people like me).
Starting with basics sounds good to me. I can do the cooking, cleaning, sewing, water filtering, basic repairs but I need help in basic skills like fishing and starting a wooden pit for cooking food using a wood fire. This book is good for covering all the bases.
7. Be more mindful of saving and investing your money.
There are 2 main money goals we want to focus on in 2021.
- Keep staying out of debt
- Invest Wisely
Let’s break these 2 goals into actions and slap a due date on each action.
GOAL 1. Keep staying out of debt
Action- Save $10000/- in cash by December 31st, 2021.
GOAL 2. Invest Wisely
Action- Study advanced money management principles and add one more income stream by April 2021.
I have written a separate article about our 2021 money goals. If I add them here, you will get lost in the fun world of numbers and calculations.
Resolutions to Vision Board to Real Life
If you have reached to this point, you know how it goes right? I need constant reminders of my new year resolutions. So I name them weirdly- I write them as kick-add habits. I make several versions of it and print those several versions to paste them everywhere in our tiny apartment to never forget about them.
Well, this year I am getting little better at it. Mostly becasue, no amount of 3M sticky tape or Gorilla Glue would help these goals stay on our walls longer than a few weeks. Besides my lovely hubby just look at them every now and then and nods his head ( in a long sighh when company is expected and he does not want them to look at these weird printables). So I’m converting these resolutions into a smart Vision board. It looks neat, its all images, no scribbled dirty handwriting. And if company comes,he doesn’t mind them looking at the pictures.
Check out this cool vision board template I made on Canva. Just open the template and save it as a copy in your account. Go crazy making your own vision board for 2021.
Extra Help to Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions
If you need more motivation and accountability to stick with your New Year’s resolutions for the whole of 2021, check out this brilliant book by James Clear. He is pretty “clear” about how to gain maximum benefits from good habits. It is called “Atomic Habits”.
TIP- for a New year, Amazon is offering a 56% sale on Atomic Habits in the US. This is its lowest price ever. Additionally, James is offering a cool bonus- an exclusive Secret Chapter when you buy Atomic Habits this week- before Saturday, January 9, 2021. The secret chapter is titled “The Biology of Bad Behavior” and explains some of the biological underpinnings behind bad habits and what scientists are doing about them. Along with this, he is offering 5 additional bonuses. They are as below-
- Bonus Business Guide: How to Apply Atomic Habits to Business. Get specific examples and insights on how to use the concepts in the book to create better products and a more effective business.
- Bonus Parenting Guide: How to Apply Atomic Habits to Parenting. A full report on how to help your children build better habits.
- The Habits Cheat Sheet: This useful summary compresses many of the key ideas and insights from the book into a handy reference guide for how to build a good habit or break a bad one.
- Companion Reading Guide: This series of 5 emails will walk you through the book and deliver extra content for understanding the main ideas. Each email also includes one idea for changing your habits that is not mentioned in the book.
- Habit Tracker: This beautiful habit tracker template makes it easy to track your habits and stick with good routines.
It is too tempting for me to pass this offer but since I already purchased it, I will not spend any more money. I will instead send the copy of my book purchase receipt to James and he will send the bonus chapter to me. Do not forget to sign up for Jame’s website to receive his productivity tips in the email.
Before you go away from this webpage and start writing your 2021 goals, do not forget to download my FREE Worksheets for New Year Resolutions and SMART Goals. It’s available for free until January 31st, 2021. After that, it’s going to get into my shop. After all, this is one of my income streams 😉
This is my take on new year’s resolutions. How do you plan yours? Are you even thinking about them in 2021? I would love to know more about it.
This article first published on Consciousdebtfreelife.com
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