Happy 2015! How to Achieve Your Goals — and Why New Year Resolutions Don’t Work!

Photo credit: Nicolas Lannuzel

Happy New Year, everyone!

It’s 2015 and for many people around the world, the New Year is traditionally a time where we set resolutions for the things we want to accomplish for the coming year.

‘I’m going to lose weight!’ (Especially after all the holiday feasting.)

‘I’m going to make more money!’ (Always a favorite.)

‘I’m going to pick up a new language!’ (And finally decipher what my girlfriend is actually saying.)

And so and so forth.

Resolutions are a wonderful way to remind ourselves of what we want to achieve and strive to be better versions of ourselves. The only thing is…

New year resolutions don’t actually work.

New-Year_Resolutions_list

Why?

Think about it. (And think about your new year resolutions if you’ve made some already.)

How did you set the resolution?

You might have set resolutions like the examples shown above. But the trouble is those resolutions are vague, non-committal, and sound more like ‘wants’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. So I have to ask:

  • How much weight do you exactly want to lose?
  • How much money do you truly want to make?
  • Do you actually have a girlfriend in the first place!?

See…

Without any specifics, it’s going to be really hard to hold on to your resolution. Without specifics, how do you know that you’re achieving your goals in the first place?

Losing 200 grams by the end of 2015 also counts as losing weight. And it also means you could have chopped off your hair to trick the scale in your favor.

Making an extra $10,000 by end December also counts as making more money. But if you spend $30,000 more in the next twelve months, you’ll end up poorer than you started!

So while resolutions are a noble thing to have, what you and all of us really need to do is to set a goal. And not just any goal, but a SMART goal.

SMART-goals

A SMART goal is:

  • Specific. What is it that you specifically want to accomplish?
  • Measurable. How will you measure your results so you know you’re reaching your goal?
  • Attainable. Set a challenging goal that can be achieved with your current abilities and resources
  • Relevant. Is this goal relevant to you and your overall objectives?
  • Time-based. Set yourself a deadline to achieving your goal.

So if you take a limp, wimpy new year resolution like ‘I want to make more money’ and turn it into a SMART goal, this is what you’ll have:

‘I will increase by personal net worth by $250,000 by 31 December 2015.’

Now the goal is:

  • Specific – Increase personal net worth.
  • Measurable – $250,000 increase.
  • Attainable  This is personal but remember to set a stretch goal.
  • Relevant – Money is always relevant!
  • Time-based – By 31 December 2015.

Create a plan

And then you set out a step-by-step plan to achieve this specific goal. For example:

  1. Understand my current financial standing. Find out what my current net worth and monthly income & expenses are.
  2. Lower my expenses. Cut out all frivolous spending and set a monthly budget for expenses. (Once you track your expenses and know how you’re spending your money, this is much easier to do.)
  3. Increase my income. Produce $100,000 more in sales commissions in 2015. (If your salary is fixed, you could earn a promotion, ask for a raise, make extra side income, etc.)
  4. Set aside monthly sum for investment. Instruct the bank to automatically direct $3,000 from my paycheck into my investment account every month.
  5. Increase my skill and understanding in investing. Visit investment & financial blogs daily, read two books about investment every month, and attend an investment workshop to short cut my learning curve.
  6. Grow investment portfolio by 35% in 2015. Spend an hour every night and eight hours every weekend to pick and analyze great stocks to invest in. Focus on five stocks that could potentially grow by 20-50%. Reinvest all dividends.

There you go! Now you have something to consistently work on every day, week, and month for the coming year to achieve your goal.

Just focus on 2-3 goals

You might have noticed that some of the steps in the plan are SMART goals in itself and require their own step-by-step plans. This will happen.

That’s why I personally like to set just 2-3 major goals every year, usually one goal in one particular area of my life (money, health, relationships, etc.) and just focus all my attention on them.

Because each major goal usually has many ‘sub-goals’ beneath it and setting too many goals can diffuse your focus. It’s easy to end up losing steam halfway through the year (or like, January. LOL).

And if you ever feel that any goal is too big to accomplish, remember this quote by one of the world’s most accomplished individuals ever.

Ford_Motor_Company_assembly_line

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

–Henry Ford

Henry Ford made and sold over 15 million Model Ts and he did it at a rate of over 9,000 cars a day — with a new Model T rolling off the assembly line every three minutes! And remember this was in the 1910-20s, an age when most people were still walking around or riding on horses.

Henry Ford basically created an industrial empire by breaking everything down to its smallest parts that even a brand new car could be produced in less time to boil an egg. Amazing.

But if all of that somehow goes over your head, you can also use this joke on yourself every time you feel your goals are too big to chew:

How do you eat an elephant?

African_Elephant_walking

One bite at a time.

Happy 2015 again! And all the best for the year ahead! 🙂

Adam Wong is the editor-in-chief of The Fifth Person and author of the national bestseller Lucky Bastard! which made the Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller’s List in 2009 and Value Investing Made Easy which made the Kinokuniya Business Bestseller’s List in 2013. In 2010, he appeared on U.S. national television on the morning show The Balancing Act. An avid investor himself, Adam shares his personal thoughts and opinions as he journals his investing journey online.

7 Comments

  1. Chrissie

    January 3, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Hi, I saw that there is a link that links to http://smartinvestorwotkshop.com are you the organizer? Will Rusmin be speaking? I want to hear him speak.

    • The Fifth Person

      January 3, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      Hi Chrissie,

      Rusmin won’t be speaking at SMART Investor Workshop as he will be overseas that weekend. His buddy Victor will be speaking though! Thanks for being a fan! 🙂

    • Rusmin Ang

      January 5, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Chrissie,

      Yes, The Fifth Person is part of the event.

      It’s a pity that I can’t speak that day but after knowing what Victor is going to share during the event, I am rest assured that the audience is going to have a good time learning from him and Adam Khoo! So do drop by if you’re free that day 🙂

      By the way, thanks for your unwavering support!

      • Chrissie

        January 6, 2015 at 10:22 am

        Thank you for your reply Rusmin! I will give it a miss until you are speaking the next time 🙂

        • Rusmin Ang

          January 7, 2015 at 2:39 pm

          Okey dokey. Do come and say hello if you are at my talk the next time. It will be a pleasure to meet you in person too! 🙂

  2. David Lim

    January 6, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Adam,
    Thank you for your article & highlights on http://smartinvestorworkshop.com.

    I have signed up for the SmartInvestor workshop. I don’t think I can get another 1-day workshop in Suntec City for USD14.95 with speakers like Adam Khoo & Victor Chng:-)

    Hope its not a typo on the cost:-) Just joking, no offence:-)

    Thank you
    David

    • Adam Wong

      January 7, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks David!

      No typo!! LOL. SMART Investor Workshop might have to raise its prices the next time like this, especially since you’re getting a free book with every ticket as well! We’ll see you on the 24th then! 🙂

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