Anyone who has ever made a New Year’s resolution to save more money can tell you how difficult it is to stay on track for more than a few weeks. It’s hard to motivate yourself to take on extra work hours when you just want to crash on your couch and binge-watch the latest Netflix series.
Setting financial goals is important, but in order to stick to them long term, you also need habits and systems in place for following through. Implement these four strategies to truly commit to your financial priorities this year:
1. Think small.
Setting a big savings goal is great, but it can also be daunting, and potentially even discouraging, when progress comes slower than you anticipate. Break down each of your yearly goals into smaller pieces and manageable next steps.
If you want to pay off a certain amount of debt, for example, break those numbers down into monthly, weekly or daily targets to help make the yearly amounts feel more manageable.
Remember: It’s the small steps taken consistently over time that enable the big changes that can transform your financial life.
2. Stay flexible.
One of the things that makes sticking with your goals so challenging is the idea of constantly sacrificing to achieve them. But any sacrifice you make or habit you implement is malleable and can be changed at any time.
Try things out and establish a time frame for each strategy. Then, assess whether that strategy is actually worthwhile.
For example, maybe you try working every Saturday for a month to see if the extra income is worth the extra day of work. If it is, you can stick with it. If it’s not, ditch the extra work. Give yourself permission to experiment and make adjustments as you work through these changes.
3. Consider what’s at stake.
According to behavioral psychologists, the pain of losing something is greater than the joy of gaining it. This means the idea of not getting the things you want can be a more powerful motivator than your goals themselves.
In addition to framing your financial behaviors as a means to achieve your lifestyle goals, you can also flip the framework to think about what’s at stake if you don’t adjust your money habits. For example, what does it look like five years from now if you don’t save the money you want in order to invest for your ideal future?
4. Celebrate your wins.
Find small ways to celebrate as you make progress toward your financial goals. This doesn’t mean you should go out and blow all of your money every time you reach a new savings threshold, but it does mean you should take the time to recognize how far you’ve already come so you can stay motivated to continue pushing forward.