There’s something compelling about the idea of making New Year’s resolutions, isn’t there? With the turning of the calendar, a brand-new year begins, unmarred by past mistakes, filled with promise and opportunity. Many of us will pause sometime during the first days of 2023, reflecting on some of the poor choices we might have made last year, and we’ll tell ourselves, “This year is going to be different! This is the year for a brand new me! I’m going to be a happier, healthier, slimmer, more likeable, more responsible person.”
Here we are, on the threshold of a New Year – still dealing with COVID, still wrestling with inflation, and still facing a year of political and economic uncertainty. Nevertheless, the feeling persists that the New Year represents a chance at a do-over. Will we take advantage of it?
It turns out that making New Year’s resolutions – and then abandoning them – is an almost universal experience. We took a look at a few articles on the subject to find out why the failure rate is so high and what we might be able to do to put more resolve in our resolutions. Then we turned to a true expert, Rajiv Nagaich, to get his take on New Year’s resolutions and to find out what 2023 goals should really matter.
Are New Year’s Resolutions a Recipe for Failure? Maybe Not!
In researching New Year’s resolutions, we looked back at this article in the archives of Psychology Today. It says that making New Year’s resolutions actually has some therapeutic value, whether we adhere to them or not.
“The average New Year’s resolution is abandoned before the Christmas credit card bills arrive,” the article says. However, the article goes on to say, “whether or not you think this is a problem depends on how you view resolutions.” In the author’s opinion, when we place too much emphasis on attaining goals for the year ahead, we may be missing the point.
“As it turns out, most New Year’s resolutions are not about behavior change,” says Psychology Today. “They are an expression of hope.” Even the act of making a resolution makes us feel better. “Research has shown that as soon as you pledge to change, you get a powerful boost in mood. The bigger the resolution, the better you feel. Immediately!” As Psychology Today says, it’s all about hope and control. In other words, go ahead and make those resolutions: you’ll feel better about yourself, even if you don’t keep them.
Keep it Simple and Manageable – and Make it a Year-Long Process
But what if we do want to keep them? If real change is our goal, how do we make successful resolutions? Many of the experts on resolutions and goal-setting seem to cite a familiar litany of recommendations. Keep the number of resolutions manageable. Be specific, not general. Don’t try to improve everything all at once. Self-improvement and goal-setting should be a year-long process, and you can begin any day of the year, not just January 1 st.
Don’t try cramming all your big changes into the first few weeks of the year. Instead, take small manageable steps, and have an accountability partner to keep you focused. That way, if you slip up, it’s easier to get back on track, and you have someone to help you do it.
Make sure you build in milestones along the way, and celebrate every time you achieve one, not just when you reach the end of the road, because acknowledging little achievements is a great motivator. And if you slip up on a resolution, relax, laugh it off, and get back on track.
Retirement Resolutions, or Merely Good Intentions?
Rajiv Nagaich agrees that it can be important to make resolutions, but if there’s no follow-through then the exercise is pointless, especially in the area of retirement planning. “I can’t begin to count the number of conversations I’ve had with people who say they intend to get around to planning for retirement ‘one of these days’ but they never seem to do it. What good is that?” he asks.
“Unless you’re willing to get serious about planning for the rest of your life, sorry to say this, but your good intentions aren’t going to help you or your family one bit.” Rajiv knows what he’s talking about: his retirement strategy called LifePlanning has helped thousands protect their assets, avoid becoming a burden to loved ones, and escape the trap of ending up in a nursing home against their wises. “But remember,” Rajiv admonishes, “none of these things happens by accident! Make a plan and stick to it!”
A Few Specific Recommendations from Rajiv
Where do you begin? Based on his two decades of experience, here are some recommendations from Rajiv’s list of resolutions for 2023:
- Financial Planning: See a qualified financial planner and have a financial dashboard prepared. “Trying to plan your financial future without a dashboard is like flying an airplane in the fog without instruments,” Rajiv advises. “Quit making decisions in a vacuum! Contact our office and we’ll gladly refer you to the right financial planner who will help you get that dashboard in place. It’s your most important resolution for 2023.”
- Legal Planning: Resolve to get your estate plan in order. That may include new or updated documents such as a will or trust, powers of attorney, and a health care directive. Rajiv adds, “You may be ready to have us host and facilitate a family conference for you and your loved ones to make certain you’re all on the same page, with future plans clarified. We’re happy to assist you and your family – just give us a call.”
- Planning for Your Family: The New Year is a good time to update all your beneficiaries. Make sure your insurance policies and 401(k) accounts have the right information or your family could be in for a shock. “Remember,” Rajiv cautions, “in most cases that beneficiary designation supersedes your will. Unless you want your ex-spouse to get all the proceeds from your life insurance or 401(k), and your current spouse and kids to get left out in the cold, make sure those forms are up to date!”
- Planning for Your Health: Take care of your health by working with the right medical team. “I’ve seen case after case of a medical crisis upending even the best-prepared financial plan,” Rajiv warns. “There is so much you can do to stay well, to stay healthy. I always recommend you start by selecting a geriatrician as your primary care doctor – that way the person managing your health is someone trained in the special needs of seniors. Contact us and we’ll refer you to a geriatric physician in your area.”
Of course, for retirement planning support, you’re always invited to visit the AgingOptions website and sample the array of services there to help you.
My Life, My Plan, My Way: Get Started on the Path to Retirement Success
At AgingOptions we believe the key to a secure retirement is the right retirement plan – yet statistics show that 70 percent of retirement plans fail. That’s why for nearly two decades we’ve been dedicated to the proposition that a carefully-crafted, fully comprehensive retirement plan is the best answer to virtually any contingency life may throw your way as you age. Our slogan says it all: My Life, My Plan, My Way.
When it comes to retirement planning, most people focus on one fairly narrow issue: money. Financial planning is an important component of retirement planning. However, people heading towards retirement often make the mistake of thinking that a little financial planning is all that’s required, when in fact most financial plans are woefully inadequate. What about your medical coverage? What if you have to make a change in your housing status – will that knock your financial plan off course? Are you adequately prepared legally for the realities of retirement and estate planning? And is your family equipped to support your plans for the future as you age?
The best way we know of to successfully blend all these elements together – finance, medical, housing, legal and family – is with a LifePlan from AgingOptions. Thousands of people have discovered the power of LifePlanning and we encourage you to the same. Simply visit our website and discover a world of retirement planning resources. Make certain your retirement planning is truly comprehensive and complete with an AgingOptions LifePlan. Age on!