We make New Year resolutions year after year. But the problem is that we slip into the New Year with the same habits. They tiptoe with us on the first, second and third of January and before we know it, the month is over and we are back to the old habits. Then shortly, the year is over. Now that this year has been quite lethargic, we need to alter course quickly or we will end up in the same place. Let’s jumpstart ourselves from the beginning. Start the year like this:
1 Tomorrow, do not touch anything or speak to anyone before taking time to think. Draft a plan. If you followed the advice I gave last week, you may have already started this. Take a blank piece of paper and paint the picture of next year. Companies set aside time to do annual strategies. Do your individual strategy. It’s a working document so it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just need to have a foundation to start with.
2 Make clear-cut decisions about what December 31, 2018, will look like. Don’t just declare you are going to save more, state what will be in your savings account on that day. Don’t say you are going to get out of debt. What will be your loan balance? What does growing your business mean exactly? Are you hiring more people or targeting higher revenues? Declaring you will invest more is too vague. Will you buy more shares, property, unit trusts among others? By how much? Close your eyes and visualise your circumstances as they will look on the last day of 2018. Write them down.
3 Share these decisions with someone you can trust, and who will hold you accountable. It’s easy to keep setting the same resolutions over and over again when there is no one to hold you responsible. This should be somebody you respect, and who will not let you off lightly. Your best friend, who may empathise with your excuses and tell you that they understand the economy is bad, is not the right person. You should literally be ‘scared’ of letting this accountability partner down.
4 Find a different conversation. Having come up with your draft plan, find out who can give you some sort of insight or inspiration. We come back to redo the same resolutions because during the year, we met the same people (over and over) and therefore had the same conversations. If you are not changing your conversations, you are not changing your mind. If you’re not changing your mind, you are not changing your destiny. Meet someone who is not in your normal circle. This is not the person who keeps you accountable but rather one whom you can learn from, one whose own experience will help guide your plans for the New Year. Have this conversation as soon as possible before normal life gets in the way.
5 Create a 10-day action plan. There’s a yoga studio that offers 10 free continuous classes for beginners. After those days are over, the routine has already been instilled and people will tend to continue. Take 10 actions related to your plan in 10 days. Don’t overthink it. It can be simple things like the different conversation, writing an email, making a phone call, setting up a standing order among others. It can also be moving money around or having a chama meeting. Even key decisions don’t always need intensive planning. Just do it. The first action starts on January 1. Share this article and get a friend to do this with.
6 Wake up earlier and plan your day. Take time alone to do this. You focus only on survival and you will end up with survival. If you don’t set your daily agenda, everybody else is perfectly happy to make you their agenda. It can even be 15 minutes earlier. Pray, reflect and decide what you want the end of the day to look like.
You end the year differently only by starting it differently. Do write to me on your experiences with this challenge.
Waceke runs programs on Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship.