The dawn of a new year can inspire a sense of hope and potential. Moving forward into a new calendar gives us space to reflect, and the desire and confidence to change. This year, 2020, is the dawn of a new decade, so that feeling of possibility is even stronger.

All that good intention, and yet….studies show that 80% of New Year’s resolutions still fail within a month.

Why is change so hard?

There are many reasons that change is challenging, and we will highlight just a few:

  1. Be sure you are really motivated to change.
    If you don’t have clarity on your purpose, it will be harder to push yourself.  A commitment to a really compelling “why?” can make a difference:  saving money for the sake of saving is hard, whereas saving to take that year-long sabbatical you’ve envisioned or finance a child’s college education will be more motivating and sustainable.
  2. Be ready for gradual progress
    We can trick ourselves into thinking we need to make the whole change right away, and become discouraged when it doesn’t happen. All change is incremental and repetitive:  you may take a step back from time to time, but you can always take two steps forward.
  3. Changing your habits has ripple effects
    If you have resolved to eat healthier, it may mean finding new activities or venues to meet with friends beyond your regular restaurant. Each time you encounter another element of your web of habit, you need willpower and creative thinking to help you persist in the unfamiliar experience of a new action, a new attitude, a new approach.
  4. Making change alone is a challenge, having a partner makes it easier.
    A physical trainer can not only teach you effective strategies for working out, but also give you the opportunity to be accountable someone else, and act as a cheerleader and motivator for the long journey of change.

How do my financial habits impact my finances? 

Making changes in your financial habits can be extra difficult because it may be a topic you don’t discuss even with your closest friends and family.  Emotion can be wrapped up in money habits, handling the prospect of retirement or the impact of an inheritance.  It can paralyze you and stifle change.

Pursue positive change and strengthen your financial life by thinking of your own initial steps for positive action:

  • Articulate one financial outcome that gives you a sense of anticipation and excitement.
  • Know that change is incremental, and brainstorm just two or three initial steps to take. Include an idea for how you will get back on track if your progress slows.
  • Find a partner to create accountability and ease the stress of facing tough issues. This can be a spouse, a friend, or a financial advisor – or all three.

There is no time like the present.

Day-to-day life moves quickly, but you can start a new path right now.  To strengthen your financial habits, just envision your first step and take it.

Brian Kozel, CFP 

About Brian Kozel, CFP®

Brian Kozel works as a partner and lead advisor at North Berkeley Wealth Management to help his clients feel confident in their financial decisions.

Read more about Brian

This commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the North Berkeley Wealth Management (“North Berkeley”) employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by North Berkeley or performance returns of any North Berkeley client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data, or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. North Berkeley manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.