It’s that time of the year again. The beginning of a new year is in sight, which, for many, symbolizes a fresh start. And as the year comes to an end, it's also a time for reflection. Millions of Americans will look back on the year and assess their accomplishments – and shortcomings – in order to create resolutions for the next year.
While it can be tempting to become overzealous and set lofty goals for the New Year, by the end of January many people find that those resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. That's because many people get stuck in the mindset that resolutions are “all or nothing” – pass or fail. Go big or go home.
Keep it simple
So this year, consider resolving to simply do the very best you can. As you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, keep in mind that no matter how precisely you lay out your plans – and even with the best of intentions – life happens. The key to achieving your goals is to be flexible. Remember why you set your goals and resolutions in the first place, and revise them accordingly.
For example, if you resolve to pay down all of your debt in the year ahead, a big life event can make you feel as though it’s just not possible. And that may be justified. However, the reason you initially set that goal was because you felt that it was important for your financial well-being – and that will still be true.
Roll with it
So if you are sidelined by an unforeseen circumstance that adds bills to your already overwhelming burden of debt, don’t abandon your desire to be debt-free. You can still make positive steps toward that goal, but accept that it may take longer than 12 months. In fact, you can use the opportunity to revisit that resolution and set a goal that you won’t accrue any more credit card debt in 2012.
While that may not initially seem as satisfying as paying off all your debt, making the decision to avoid self-sabotage by resolving to not accrue more debt will pay off in the long-run. Not only is this revised goal attainable, but if will help you remain in control of your debt.
And if you end up putting any money toward the debt you originally resolved to pay off next year, then that’s just icing on the cake.
So here's a great year, no matter what your goals may be!
This is an updated version of an article that was posted in December 2011.