Thursday, January 09, 2014

Keep Your New Year's Resolutions (and Here's Why You're Broke)

The Chinese have a saying: a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. I sat down the other day to try to come up with a plan and-or some resolutions for 2014. I thought about all the things I regretted NOT doing over the past several years. While I personally don't feel comfortable publishing my vision for the coming year here on the blog, financial planning is taking center stage as I continue working my little outline of goals for this new 12 month period. Last week I saw an article where it was explained that the individual lives of luminaries like Beyoncé, Ben Franklin, Pope Francis, Phil Everly, Nelson Mandela, Vladimir Putin etc, are barely microscopic blips in cosmic time, of no utter importance in the grand scheme of things. And the author said if these people are specks, think of what YOU and I must be compared to them! The moral of the story was to get yourself and your life moving - don't fear anything - just go out and do and try things and express yourself and be kind to everyone you meet along the way...

First a short lesson in Basic Blogonomics ::: The Blogosphere is a little quieter than it was, say, back in 2007-8-9. A lot of traffic has moved over to twitter and facebook. But there is still reason to blog, still a lot of information worth preserving. On eof the things that keeps me blogging is that the practice is a way of "clipping" useful information and articles and sticking them on a timelined website for safekeeping and future reference.

Having typed that, here are two "keepers."

(1) I bumped into another twitterer whose tweet I found very interesting...

Read this and you won't maybe you won't get fooled again! By the way, this website does lead you to a book. As you know, some books are really good and chock full o'stuff like, Abbie Hoffman's "Steal This Book" was in it's day. And some books are a lot of hooey. I'm not endorsing this book or recommending it, but if you've gone out and spent a few 20s on Suzie Orman books and you're still up the financial creek without a paddle, "Brass Knuckle Finance" might just serve as a worthy money-compass for you...

(2) The New York Times Sunday Review published "How to Keep Your Resolutions" By KATHERINE L. MILKMAN and KEVIN G. VOLPP - a really good article that was a real b to load - the website must have been busy, but I finally "got it" - here is the LINK and I'll add a synopsis and my 2 centsworth:

Make a concrete plan. Write stuff down. Put a date and time to reach your goal on it. Some believe there is real power in seeing one’s goals and aspirations written down. The authors suggest you put money on it: they say "You can arrange to forfeit money if you don’t achieve your goals at, a website founded by behavioral economists. But putting money on the line isn’t your only option: Making an appointment to exercise with a friend may be effective, too, because you are much less likely to cancel on a friend than on yourself." OK, that sounds good.

Some folks don't like the term "resolution" - feel free to tack on your own label! Some call them "goals."

Some folks despise the idea of "resolution" at all ::: "Resolutions: I figure they keep you grounded to the rules that you set up for yourself that may or may not come to fruition. It’s a beautiful set up to failure, an angel with a smiling face that guides you into hell, heehee." ~ Robert Mirabal

Then, and this is a real interesting suggestion, they recommend "bundling" activities. "Imagine you want to exercise more but struggle to drag yourself to the gym. Imagine you also have a fondness for trashy novels but feel guilty wasting your time reading them. The solution is simple: Allow yourself to read those novels only while exercising at the gym. Our research demonstrates that when you leave your copy of 'The Hunger Games' (or such) at the gym, you exercise 56 percent more often."

They also recommend seeking "social support" to keep your resolutions. The article is much more thorough and has lots and lots of links to help you turn advice into action.

Where's that 2 centsworth I promised you? Something I read recently, though I'm sorry to say I forgot where. It gave 3 Golden Secrets to Keeping On'es New Year Goals.

1 - Believe in yourself:  motivation will flow naturally and you will "attract" things...

2 - Believe in your goals:  to paraphrase what I read "if you don't really want to go there, don't take the journey."

3 - Believe in (once you have defined) your COMMUNITY because that network of friends, family, colleagues and co-workers should cheer you on and stand behind you - and be there for you when you're down or tired. If your community isn't helping you out, get yourself a new community.

Two true "goal" stories ::: once upon a time there was a certain car I wanted. I admired its reliability and had hoped to purchase it when the business that owned it upgraded. I was at a yard sale and for 25 cents purchased one of those cardboard fold-out "sunscreens" to go inside to block the summer sun from roasting the interior when the vehicle was parked and locked. When I bought it I thought to myself "this is for that car."

Unfortunately, the business upgraded and put the car up for sale, and I had no money at the time. Not a penny. The recession was in full swing at the time and no one bought the car. Later on, the business asked me if I wanted the car - they said I could have it for FREE. I thought I was dreaming!

A couple years later I wanted a certain new smartphone which had a lot of features I liked. But the price was off the chart. (My chart!) After looking longingly at models of that phone while at the mall, I visited a kiosk where I purchased for $5 a protective case for that particular model phone. When I got home I stashed it in a drawer. Three months later I was astonished to see the very smartphone I had yearned for on sale online from WalMart - for just $89! I thought it was one of those mistakes. But it wasn't. I ordered my phone, received it a week later, and the first thing I did was put it in that little protective case.

 Now: Go back to the top of this article and re-read the paragraph about the book. And keep in mind one of the things I tweeted: " A lot of times people you may think are 'well off' and 'secure' are hardly that and everything but."

This post was originally published January 3 2014 and updated January 5 and again January 9 2014.

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