Failing Forward: Understanding Why Financial New Year's Resolutions Fail and How to Help Make Them Stick

Julia Carlson |

New Year's resolutions are those well-intentioned commitments we make to ourselves. But so often we find ourselves struggling to keep them. Why do they fail? The reasons are surprisingly varied, but here are some common culprits:

  1. Lack of specificity. Vague goals like "save more money" or "pay off debt" are hard to track and lack actionable steps. Without a concrete plan, like "save $50 per week" or "make extra payments on my credit card each month," it is easy to lose motivation and momentum.
  2. Unrealistic expectations. Aiming for too much too soon sets you up for disappointment. Resolving to pay off all your debt in a year might be unrealistic if your income and expenses do not allow for such a drastic shift. Start with smaller, achievable goals like paying off one debt by the end of the year, for example, a credit card. This way, you can gradually build upon your success.
  3. Underestimating the effort. Change takes time and consistent effort. Do not underestimate the commitment needed to reach your goals. Plan your approach and anticipate challenges.
  4. Ignoring the "why". Connecting your resolutions to deeper values and desires can boost your motivation. Ask yourself why you want to save money or be debt-free. Is it for financial security, future travel plans, or a more comfortable retirement? A strong "why" will fuel your commitment when the going gets tough.
  5. Lack of accountability. Sharing your goals with a friend, family member, or financial advisor/coach can provide accountability and encouragement. Find someone who will celebrate your successes and offer support when you face challenges.
  6. All-or-nothing thinking. One slip-up does not derail everything. Embrace the occasional hiccup as a learning experience and get back on track. Rigid thinking only leads to discouragement.
  7. Neglecting self-care. Burning the candle at both ends leads to burnout. Prioritize sleep, exercise, and relaxation to replenish your energy and maintain your emotional well-being.
  8. Emotional spending. Our emotions can hijack our financial decisions. Stress, boredom, or social pressure can lead to impulse purchases or overspending. Identify your spending triggers and develop healthy alternatives to avoid sabotaging your financial goals.

Struggling with your New Year's resolutions is simply a chance to learn, adapt, and try again. Be patient, celebrate your progress, and do not hesitate to adjust your approach as needed. By understanding the common pitfalls and employing the tips above, you can increase your chances of making this year the one where your financial resolutions stick!

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Information in this material is for general information only and not intended as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please consult the appropriate professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation prior to making any financial decision. Email me your questions at or call/text (458) 777-4458. 

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