It’s fun to make predictions for the coming year. The only problem: once they’re in print, you’ll have to face it in January of the next year. Maybe you were right, maybe you weren’t.
Some daring types use a schtick. Len Penzo’s ‘Magic 8-Ball’ didn’t do so hot in 2012; nearly every one of his predictions, including the election of a Republican president, was wrong. Oops! On the other hand, Sam from Financial Samurai did quite well with his 2012 Predictions. Go figure.
If your Magic 8 Ball is on the fritz, you’ll do better to stick to resolutions, instead. “Resolution,” according to the Free Dictionary, has a triple meaning:
A firm determination to be resolute
Resolving to do something
The course of action that gets you there.
Divide and conquer
Do you want to change your life in 2013? A resolution is a great way to do it — provided, of course, that you really want to, and you’re willing (and determined, naturally) to take steps toward achieving those goals.
Separating them into categories helps:
Personal (or family)
Achieve your goals
Next, how are you going to achieve these resolutions? Just wanting them won’t do it — you’ve got to have a realistic, usable plan. Tips that help:
*Brainstorm — what do you really want? Write down everything you can think of, both short and long-term. Whatever isn’t feasible this year may well be accomplished in a few more.
*Ask someone you love to do the same thing — especially your spouse or partner. Attacking a goal together, particularly if it’s one you both want, is always better.
*Choose some goals from that list that you can truly resolve on this year. Add more “wannabe” goals, if you like. But a few are more easily accomplished than many.
*Break each of those goals into smaller steps. Want an extra $1,000 saved by year’s end? You’ll need to put by $20 a week. (Yes, I can count — 52 weeks x $20 = $1040. Miss a few weeks, due to sickness or vacation, and you’re still ahead.)
Now all you need to do is figure out some ways to save that extra cash. (Some of the earlier posts on this site can help, like 50 tips that save a buck or two…but add up to a lot more than that.) Don’t let the big amount scare you — it’s irrelevant. All you need is a 20-spot a week…much more doable.
This bit-by-bit strategy works in other categories besides money. What if you’d love to visit Ireland by the end of the year, for example. Start with:
*When can you go? (Choose at least two or three different periods, to give yourself more options)
*How much can you afford to spend? (Maybe you’ll need to save the money this year, to give yourself more freedom next annum. Ireland’s not going anywhere, after all.)
*What are the best prices? Travelzoo, Kayak and other bargain sites are good places to start. Put in a Google search, using phrases like “Ireland travel bargain.” Patient sleuthing over a few months will give better results than one or two quickies.
*Book during a sale. That money you’ve been setting patiently aside, week by week, comes in handy now. Finally,
*Cut yourself some slack. You’re human — you will mess up or sluff off somewhere along the way. Missing out for a week here or there doesn’t mean your goals should be abandoned entirely. It just emphasizes what the rest of the world already knows: you’re not perfect. Meeting your resolution in 60 weeks, instead of 52, is nothing to be ashamed of.
Want an example, to get you started? Joe at Retire by 40 has a good basic list of resolutions. Make your own goals this year: plan what you want, and how you’ll get it. It doesn’t take a Magic 8-Ball to know that you’ll succeed. Good luck and good fortune!