How often you find your financial plans difficult to adhere to? Few of us make a resolution when we start the year but very few can keep up to the plans. Same as our budgets, financial plans are also very hard to keep up with. I admit I failed miserably every time I set up a financial plan. The only way that works for me is to have automatic payments routed to retirement and other targeted accounts before money comes to my checking account. Dr. Pete Sulack is an expert in this field, I am glad to present a guest post from him today. Enjoy the post!
There is no question that your finances can be a source of stress no matter how much or little of it you have. Each year, you sit down and make your New Year’s resolutions – vows to save more money, give more to charity, or finally start to get serious about planning for retirement. By February, it’s dark and cold outside and they are running commercials for that island vacation or new sports car, and the reality sets in about how hard it might be to keep tabs on your personal finances after all. When we know what needs to be done but don’t have discipline, we often think less of ourselves and find it hard to establish a goal-nurturing environment.
Neuroscience tells us that the conscious mind only makes up for five percent of our cognitive function each day, leaving the 95 percent controlled by our already-programmed unconscious mind. Our unconscious mind controls our life, which can easily help us fail to attain goals – which is depressing.
However, we can control the unconscious mind to eliminate stress and stick to our resolutions. So why do we so often not follow through with our resolutions?
There are many reasons for our lack of follow-through, but here are my top five:
We aren’t specific
Unless a goal is specific, it will fade with time. Saying you want to “save more money” is not observable or measurable. Instead, be as granular as you can: “I want to save $100 each month to save up for a cruise vacation” or “I will set aside $20 each month and donate to my local food bank.”
We allow limiting thoughts and ignore hurdles
There is no way around it; you will be confronted with doubts, limiting beliefs and challenges keeping you from reaching your goals. To combat the inner negativity and self-doubt, utilize positive affirmation and a positive attitude.
Why? In a new behavioral perspective introduced by molecular biologist, Dr. Bruce Lipton, our genes are controlled and manipulated by how our minds perceive and interpret our environment – not necessarily how our environment truly is. Explained by the science of epigenetics, or the study of chemical reactions and the factors that influence them, personal positivity can actually send new messages to change your cellular structure and reprogram health and behavior.
If you recognize the challenges you will most likely encounter, you’ll also be able to have an action plan to deal with the issues and be more apt to stick to your goals. Instead of ignoring hurdles and reacting stressfully to them as they surface, you’ll be in a place to address them and move forward.
We hang out with critics
A supportive environment is important. If family and friends seem overall supportive, but don’t agree with your goal or scoff at its attainability, you’ll never succeed. Naysayers, dream stealers and cynics don’t believe in your ability to be a better you, and typically are nothing but a bankrupt idealist and will encourage you to “play it safe.”
There are two types of dream stealers: caring dream stealers who are afraid that you will fail and jealous dream stealers who are afraid that you will succeed. Share your successes with your support system, but not necessarily your failures. Take the time to analyze your hardships or failures and use them as a learning tool throughout the year.
Have a game plan
Creating measurable goals is the first step, but you also have to be clear about how you can reach said goals. Write down your specific resolution, followed by at least one action that will get you one step closer to completion. Most of us get stressed when we feel overwhelmed, so eliminating the “big picture” goal and breaking it down in a visual easy-to-digest format can keep us in check.
If you feel as if you’re at a loss when coming up with an action plan, bring in an expert – such as an insurance agent or financial advisor – to help you map it out. However, be selective when choosing which people to bring into your support system.
It’s self explanatory, but everyone is guilty. We put things off, pushing us further from our goals. Saying, “I’ll cut out that Starbucks coffee next month” will only cause your unconscious mind to run rampant and make it harder to establish progress.
Break your yearly goals down into what must be done by the month or week, and actually do them. Remember, activity does not equal productivity. Activity can be idle, but productivity moves you forward towards your eventual goal.
About the author: Dr. Pete Sulack is stress expert, writer and speaker. He is the founder of Unhealthy Anonymous (www.unhealthyanonymous.com) – a wellness support program that provides tools for healthier living.