Don’t Be Afraid To Make New Year’s Resolutions

There seems to be a camp that believes that New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time.  Are you kidding me?  If you have no resolutions for the next year, you’re going to have a very unfocused way of making progress in whatever you want to do.  There’s another camp that says you should have very few resolutions so that you succeed in achieving your goals.

Well that’s fine if you have a difficult time tying your shoelaces and juggling more than several things at once over 365 days.  Wow, 365 days……. did you know that people have built billion dollar companies and cities in that time period?  You do right?  Well, what’s stopping you from making resolutions?

* You’re afraid to fail. No goals, no failure!  Very simple.  Easy to talk about how New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time instead.

* You’re lazy. You don’t want to put your goals out there because once you do, you know that you’ve got to try and accomplish them.

* You’re embarrassed. Who gives a damn what other people think?  And if you are embarrassed, just write them down in private.  Nobody is going to kidnap your bunny if you fail.

I have a lot of goals for 2011 because I have a lot of things I want to do.  Call me a motivated I guess.  But, each year that goes by is one less year I have to live.  Time gets more and more valuable the older you get.  Some goals are more important than others, such as seeing my parents 4X in 2011.  I’m not going to start crying if I still dress too casually for my own good.  But, I will be disappointed that I didn’t make a strong enough effort to look sharper.

USE “SAM” TO HELP YOU SUCCEED

* (S)pecific. Your goals should be as crystal clear as possible.  Don’t leave room for you to wing it and make soft interpretations such as “I will lose weight.”  Instead, write “I will lose 10 pounds by June 1 and if I don’t I will run 10 miles a week for the remainder of the year until I do.”

* (A)ctionable.  You’ve got to be able to do something about your goal in order to succeed because if you achieve the goal with no action, you will feel empty.  Goals that require no action are just dreams.

* (M)easurable. If you have no way of measuring your progress, then you might as well not have a goal.  You should set checkpoints through the year to see your progress.  The best check points I find are after every quarter i.e. April 1, July 1, Oct 1, and finish out the rest of the year strong.

Bet you didn’t realize that I’d always be with you on your resolutions journey now did you?  If you have a journal or a blog, your New Year’s resolutions should get you excited!  Part of the whole reason why you have a journal or a blog is because it allows you to record your thoughts and review them at a later date, while holding you accountable for your decisions.  Go out there and write down your resolutions for 2011 and prioritize.  You can have 1 or 10.  Whatever the case may be, it’s a personal decision.  Just don’t have none!

Readers, what are your excuses for not making any yet?  Do you need a kick in the pants or a nipple twist to get you going?

Best,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. Chris Parsons says

    I’m not against making annual goals, but I am against New Years Resolutions. What I hate about them is that they typically lack purpose and there’s a built in expectation of failure in our society. Thus, I have started the Anti New Years Resolution Movement.

    It’s still about setting annual goals – but with a little different focus.

  2. Everyday Tips says

    I am actually going to set some Resolutions/Goals this year, and I never really have before. I will have review monthly though as I think more frequent reviews will keep me on track better.

  3. RealizedReturns says

    I always set resolutions and I’ve been reasonably good at sticking to them in recent years. I like what you said about blogging there and the element of accountability if one of my motivators for starting to blog again.

    For some reason making anonymous commitments to perfect strangers works better for me than making a promise to myself.

  4. Invest It Wisely says

    I wasn’t planning on making any resolutions, but you’re right, they are a good way to measure. I just seeded a list of resolutions on your own resolutions post. Maybe I’ll formalize it a bit more and post it up soon. :)

  5. retirebyforty says

    All right SAM, you changed my mind. I’ll be making some resolutions this year. :)
    I haven’t made any resolutions for many years because they were always unfocused, but your SAM tips will help. I think the quarterly review is a great idea.

  6. Little House says

    I like the SAM method. It really does make a difference if you can measure progress on a goal. My big goal this year is boost my savings, and I have specific strategies that I’ll be using to achieve it. But I’m also going to be adding in goals such as bike a certain amount of miles this year and try and visit one more remote camp ground such as Mt. Whitney or Zion National park. Thanks for the encouragement, Sam.

  7. krantcents says

    I think it is question of semantics! A New Year’s resolution is something said at a party or mentioned to a friend. It is similar to a “wish”. Goals require plans to make them happen. Monitoring and adjusting your efforts are also important to achieving your goals. Last a time frame is a necessary ingredient. I might change your SAM concept to SAMMTA. When it is all said and done, I have 2011 goals (not quite finished) with a plan to accomplish them. You can call them New Year’s resolutions, if you want.

  8. twentysomethingmoney says

    I think its SMART, not Sam… Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely. A bit more in-depth in terms of goal accountability. Its easy to set goals, but if they don’t fit into any/all of the above, you’ll likely not achieve them, and if you do, they probably didn’t matter to begin with.

    But all in all — time for a great 2011, with some really good goals.

  9. Aloysa says

    LOL Is this in reponse to my post about why I don’t set up any goals? I believe that setting goals is so engraved in us that we are afraid to not have goals. We think if we don’t have anything specific to measure up to, we are a failure. Who defines all this? Who says what is right and what is wrong? What works for you might not work for me. You are a goal achieving machine, Sam. I am a relaxed, free spirit. LOL It doesn’t mean that I cannot achieve anything.

  10. Money Reasons says

    Normally (or at least last year), I had resolutions, but this year I’m basically rebooting myself (yeah, I’m a techie). I plan on changing my lifestyle, and hopefully creating an alternative option for my kids to model after.

    I was a little late to the game on this, but I realize that my kids (especially my son) models much of his behavior after my example. I finally concluded this fact this past year, so if I want my kids to be at least one up from where I am, I need to lead the way.

    I will do a monthly update on my progress, it should be interesting where it leads too. I’m actually kind of excited for once about next year and the potential it has for my and my family.

    Oh, the line in your post “Nobody is going to kidnap your bunny if you fail.” gave me a great laugh!!! very funny. :)

  11. Darwin's Money says

    Wow, do we work for the same firm? S.A.M. sounds like our objectives-setting message we get each year. I agree though; thanks for the reminder. I’m about to do my 2011 objectives post for Darwin’s Money!

  12. Charlie says

    I am a huge fan of making resolutions. If only I could get my mother to make some & stick to them – I’ve been trying so hard to get her to stay within a budget and get out of debt yet I just found out today she went and blew several hundred dollars on a bunch of stuff she doesn’t need a few weeks ago. Augh so frustrating. Why do some people have no will power when it comes to budgets and shopping? Guess I need to add more patience and persistence to my resolutions. In any case I’ll do my best to keep things positive and I think 2011 will be a great year. Best of luck everyone!

    • Financial Samurai says

      Oh no! That sucks about your mom, however….. perhaps the stuff she buys makes her feel much better than the pain debt incurs? Everything is rational right ie nobody willingly jabs their eyeballs with forks yeah?

      • Charlie says

        Well her debt will become my debt if she can’t pay it off so it feels like my eyeballs are getting jabbed! Alas it’s not the end of the world I just feel like all my hard work in the last few months was wasted and I’m back at square one with her again…. But everyone deserves a second chance and I won’t give up on her – hopefully she won’t give up on her either. :)

  13. MD says

    I love to set goals and to challenge myself constantly. I read about a new diet/training regimen and I decided to implement it on December 23rd, not January 1st or any arbitrary date. I just don’t like the notion that most people wait until a New Year starts to start hustling. Start working right now and reap the benefits later.

  14. MoneyNing says

    Someone not setting annual goals can be just the opposite of being lazy because 365 days is WAYYY too long. Set goals often and frequently, because who needs a 12/31 deadline when you can get things done by February?

  15. Miss T @ Prairie EcoThrifter says

    I love the SAM method. Very original and yet very helpful. I am not against setting goals, I am just against setting resolutions. I find they are never stuck too and they have become something people just say and never act on…almost like a formality. I know that goals and resolutions can be looked at as the same thing but I have found in my interactions with others that people are less able to stick to their resolutions but the goals that they have always had stay strong in their minds.

  16. Evan says

    I think resolutions are a waste of time, but SAM goals are REALLY important. I think it is more than arguing semantics. Think of the difference between I am going to work out 3 times a week vs. I will lose weight

  17. Forest says

    I have not been focusing on my personal side of things much on the blog recently but did state my main resolution in a post yesterday. I want to pay off every penny of my $48k debt! It’s the biggest undertaking I have ever stated but I think I can do it with a lot of solid hard work.

    I have other less lofty goals that revolve more around lifestyle than finances and can’t wait to continue growing with Yakezie and our fellow bloggers.

      • Forest says

        Hey Sam, yeah if it keeps going like the last few months then I will make it…. A year has many peaks and troughs though so have to save really well in the peaks and tighten the belt in the troughs….. You guys have been a great motivation last year.

  18. First Gen American says

    I laughed out loud when I read the SAM method but it is a good one. I do get introspective this time of year. I fear becoming that hamster on the wheel spinning and getting no where so every year I want to be a little smarter and move a little closer to certain goals. I don’t want to wake up one day when I’m 50 and say “what have I done with my life?”

    Good post.

    • Financial Samurai says

      Pretty brilliant huh? Hahaha. Don’t forget about me when you do your resolutions!

      I have the EXACT same fear! I don’t want to have regrets and look back wondering why the heck i didn’t do something.

      Best to you!

      • Marie@familymoneyvalues.com says

        Setting goals, breaking them down to milestones and tasks and actually meeting your goals are all great ways to approach a planned life.

        I’m past that 50 year mark and know that life is full of ‘the roads not taken’. Unfortunately, when you choose one road, sometimes the other choices go away. You can’t do it all no matter how hard you try. I think that there are always some regrets and some things we must leave undone. But… living life with purpose minimizes that.

  19. The Passive Income Earner says

    I made some goals for the blog and my financial world but I have not made any on the personal side. I think I’ll avoid the nipple twist and make some, or at least, make them actionable because it’s too vague. I am goal oriented so I need to state them somewhere at home.

  20. SophieW says

    Careful Sam, I might take that offer of a nipple twist as a come-on ;)

    I’m working on my goals (resolutions) already… But some still need some fine tuning. I usually have them bashed out by the end of the first week of January.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  21. Allison says

    First time jumping onto your site (linked from Consumerist) and have to say this motivated me to make a specific list of things I want to do this year and not be shy about having too many. Thanks for the motivation and I will be adding this to my RSS feed :)

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