I love new beginnings. They give me the chance to wipe my personal slate clean and get a fresh start.
Sure, I can’t undo my past or my blunders, but understanding where and why I went wrong can help me set new goals and chart a new course.
Our next big fresh start is just 53 days away. Yep, Jan. 1 is a little more than seven weeks from now. I used to start my planning for the new year on New Year’s Day. Now, I start in November. This way, I can prepare properly and create new habits before I need them.
If you could use a fresh financial start or just a course correction, start planning now. When New Year’s Day arrives, you’ll enter the year with momentum, motivation and confidence.
Take a look backFirst, review your financial choices and behavior. Start with 2016 and look back as far as it serves you. Get a notebook or a few sheets of paper. On the first page, draw a line down the middle to form two columns. Label one “Accomplishments” the other “Regrets.” Write down whatever comes to mind.
Then, turn to a new page and label it “Lessons Learned.” After reviewing your accomplishments and regrets, write down the lessons you would pass on to your child or a young person you know. Make them simple and actionable. Don’t shame yourself, just share the lesson.
Recognize that these are valuable insights. Appreciate all that you have done – both the accomplishments and the regrets because they endowed you with wisdom you can pass on.
What do you want?Now, it’s time to look forward. What do you want to accomplish financially in 2017? Turn to a new page and begin listing your goals. Your goals may be reactions to your regrets or a lesson learned that you want to put into action.
No matter the source of your goals, make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
To increase the chance of achieving your goals, break them into smaller steps. Goals that are too large can be discouraging.
Small steps, big changesYour goals should define what daily actions you need to take. If the actions are not clear, examine the goal. It might be too big, too vague or not relevant to you.
On a new page in your notebook, list the actions you’ll take. Create a checklist to guide you and keep you accountable.
These three steps can give you a launching pad and a map to chart a new financial course in 2017. Use the days left in 2016 to begin to integrate your new habits into your daily routine.
When New Year’s Eve arrives, you can celebrate, knowing that you’re already on your way to making 2017 a great year.
Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com