The end of the year is a great time for a bit of a review of the year’s achievements and experiences, the highs and the lows. It’s a time to celebrate and consolidate before leaping into the new year.
It’s been a big one for us with the birth of our first child and my PhD graduation only two weeks ago – the end of one era devoted on the most part to my own development and learning and the beginning of one centred around our family.
Looking forward now into 2012 and beyond we know there are a number of large goals that we want to make progress towards. One of them is Will’s education. In my own lifetime I’ve seen the cost of university education sky-rocket in Australia and I wouldn’t want to bet that this trend is likely to reverse by the time our son has the choice to pursue tertiary study.
So, one of our new year resolutions is to start an education fund so that we can afford to put him through Uni. I know that the secret to this is to chip in regularly. When we get a windfall we can put in more, but even on the lean weeks we can put in something. Anything is better than zero right? But regularity, consistency is key. It’s about creating a habit of saving. Putting in about $50 a week over 18 years, will likely accumulate to roughly $100,000. The trick is taking small steps frequently toward the goal, rather than just relying on making huge leaps every now and then. It’s all about consistency of effort.
This applies to all areas of life and achievement really. Health and fitness are obvious ones to apply this approach to. When you want to create lasting results, and to continually improve on them, it’s the choices you make each day that matter. For example, I have a goal of riding 5000 km next year. That will be 2.5 times what I managed this year. But over the last 6 months I’ve managed to ride with much more consistency so this goal actually only represents a 30% increase on my current performance. The problem this year was that I had several chunks where I didn’t ride at all. I did have good reason for some of the time, but in 2012, I’ll be aiming at keeping those weeks at a minimum. Exercising regularly is also a good way of preventing injury as the body is being maintained in the right condition rather than being shocked by intermittent bursts of activity.
Of course, consistency works the other way as well, especially if you consistently do things that are bad for your health, be that physical, emotional, or financial. Credit card debt often builds to unattainable levels not because it’s used for big purchases, but because they get used for lots of little ones. The best thing I found was to just leave them at home! Nothing beats cash.
So as you think about your goals for 2012, think about the areas of your life that you really want to improve. Make a commitment to yourself to take consistent action. What dreams have you left unanswered? If 2012 was the last year we had on this earth what do you know without any doubt that you would take action towards? It might be visiting a favorite place, or starting a creative project you’ve been putting off, or maybe you just want to spend more time enjoying the company of the people you love. Only you know what’s really, really important to you.
While you’re here, look at what you’re already doing regularly and consider whether this is going to help you achieve your goals or undermine your efforts. Financial health is as much about saving regularly as it is about being aware of your spending habits. Don’t let your wealth creation strategy be undermined by your debt creation strategy! Similarly with health. Yes exercise more, but also look at what you’re putting into the system. If you’re consuming lots of alcohol, and lots of carbs and saturated fats then you’ll have to work that much harder to get the full benefit of the effort you’re putting in.
This kind of change isn’t that easy, especially as many of our destructive habits have their roots deep in our psychology. Spending, eating, and substance addictions are often just responses to deeper emotional issues – stress, pain, loneliness, unhappiness, and perceived powerlessness. It’s when we face up to these and look for deeper and more healthy ways of fulfilling them that the need for these other things can just drop away.
So that’s my last offering for 2011. I invite you to share with me what you are most proud of this year, and what you’re most committed to achieving in 2012. Writing it down and making it public is a great way to tell the universe that you really mean business.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!