So, Happy New Year! The joy of my exciting new role working with you all at ValidPath, sitting at my desk on 2 January with nothing in the in-tray is that Kevin’s first job for me is to write this week’s blog. So, here is the first Not the KevBlog of 2014!
This time of year brings resolutions, and with them, change.
There are the negative resolutions : stopping smoking for good
, stopping drinking for January
, losing weight
Then there are the positive ones : sign up for a new physical challenge, like Race for Life
, a Great Run
or commit to a charity expedition
The first few days of January always saw the phones busy with new clients who had made financial resolutions : sort out my finances, get advice, sort out my tax.
As with any goal-setting, which is all a new year’s resolution really is, the trick is keeping to the golden rules. Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-stamped.
When I gave up smoking, I did so for Lent. I found it easier to believe I could stop for 40 days than to believe I could stop for ever. Of course, having stopped for 40 days I had no interest in starting again.
The Biggest Loser personal trainer Bob Harper
tells clients to not simply give up the bad food that has caused their weight gain. It is easier for them to decide to only choose small portion of fries, once a week, than it is to go ‘cold turkey’ (sorry!) and never eat them again. Of course, once the healthy lifestyle is a habit the desire for fries naturally reduces (or so they tell me!).
This teaches us lessons about financial management too. Do clients’ plans fail because they were too over-optimistic? Do they start with the best intention to save all their surplus income, but “fall off the wagon” the minute they buy that new tablet computer or want to spend more on that holiday than they budgeted for? And, once they have fallen off the wagon, do they, like over-ambitious dieters, give up even trying or can they dust themselves off and start over?
We do our clients a big favour when we counsel moderation in their goals. A smaller goal achieved is considerably more motivating than a more ambitious target which has not been met. So it may take longer to meet the goals if less is saved, or if a lower investment return is targeted, but the goals are much more likely to be achieved if the plans we put in place in January are still in place in December.
And our clients will love us for understanding human nature. Life is for living. A life full of “I can’t” and “I mustn’t” and “it’s not allowed” is simply not ‘life in all its fullness’. Resolving to balance planning for the future with enjoying the here and now could be one of the most important resolutions both we and our clients could make in 2014.