After 2020, setting lofty resolutions for 2021 might feel like a stretch, when just getting through the day can feel like a success. Instead, use the turning of the calendar as a time to reflect on what adaptions from 2020 you’d like to keep going forward. Also, instead of setting resolutions, try setting intentions. Here’s how that might look in your financial life.

  1. What to keep from 2020. Take some time to reflect on what happened in your life in 2020 and what adaptations you made and how they impacted you financially. For example, by being unable to travel, eat out, or go to live performances, many people found themselves spending less than before and saw their savings grow. How can you preserve some of this newfound financial flexibility once things return to normal? While there will certainly be some pent-up demand for experiences once we can all go out again, be mindful of not just going back to old habits, especially if you like your higher bank account balance. Maybe going out once a week instead of four times a week and spending more time watching movies or having family game night at home can provide entertainment. Or what about cooking at home together instead of eating out multiple times a week? Do you need as many new clothes if you’re likely to continue mostly working from home? Reflect on your adaptations this year and determine which ones might be worth keeping and that can help you make faster progress towards your financial goals.
  2. Set financial intentions, not resolutions. It’s a healthy practice to take stock of our lives periodically and assess what needs to change or ways we’d like to grow. Setting New Year’s resolutions can feel good at first, like turning a new page or getting a fresh start. However, a large majority of resolutions fail after the first month or two, likely because many of them address things we feel are wrong with our lives or that we “should” be doing. Resolutions tend to be all or nothing and we feel shame if we fail and are therefore more likely to abandon them. Instead, why not set more general and flexible intentions? Intentions have more compassionate energy because they don’t tie us to an outcome. They ask that we bring mindfulness to our actions and focus on change. It’s therefore easier to view failure as normal, because we are human and keep trying. Intentions also tend to arise from our values, so we are more likely to be motivated to pursue them. Examples of financial intentions might be:
    1. Increase my financial literacy
    2. Achieve financial independence
    3. Enhance my earning power

Whether you feel inspired to set audacious New Year’s resolutions or not, remember to be kind to yourself and accept that things don’t always go as planned. If you are still feeling shell-shocked from 2020, then try using reflections on what to keep and more values-aligned intentions to help you move into the new year with hope and excitement.  As Socrates says in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior: “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”.