Two thirds of advisors (68%) who responded to our weekly Insta-poll believe this Holiday season has been more stressful than usual from both a business and personal perspective. So, after another difficult and stressful year, don’t beat yourself up for overeating, overspending, over-pouring and oversleeping a little during the Holiday season. Same goes for your clients. You deserve it.
Just know that your ambitious plans to get back into fitness, financial and emotional shape after January 1st are not likely to stick. Research shows four out of five New Year’s resolutions (81%) will be abandoned by mid-January unless you started test-driving them around Thanksgiving time. The idea is to start making realistic tweaks and adjustments to your resolutions before you post them on your bulletin board and social media accounts for all to see. But in today’s A.D.D. instant gratification society, most people don’t have the patience for that.
Go real with your resolutions
Again, resolutions don’t fail because we lack willpower or discipline; it’s more about bad timing. When we launch resolutions on January 1st, we are making a change based on a calendar date when we think we are prepared to change our lives dramatically. It’s even more difficult to hit the ground running when you’ve gone a month or more without being on our A-Game.
Yet, this mindset has been around for over 4,000 years, ever since the ancient Babylonians used the start of the new calendar year to crown a new king, or to proclaim their loyalty to an existing king. It’s also when they swore to their gods they would pay off debts and promised to return borrowed goods to their neighbor. The penalty for breaking one’s resolutions back then were a lot harsher than they are today. But even then, the “stick rate” wasn’t as a high as you would think.
Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy believes resolutions don’t last because too often we’re setting ourselves up for failure and self-loathing. “We tend to set unreasonable aims for ourselves and then experience negative emotions and a lack of motivation when we don’t reach them,” she observed. “Failing to meet the unreasonable goals we set for ourselves can in turn take a negative toll on our self-worth,” added Cuddy.
Researcher and author Richard Wiseman, agrees with Cuddy that we set goals that are too high or too audacious and that we also tend to be too impatient. He believes another big cause of resolution failure is that we tend to sprint out of the gate in search of immediate “returns” rather than taking “baby steps” that will take some time before they move the needle.
If you’ve been a coach potato your entire adult life, don’t resolve to run a marathon within six months. It may work in the movies, but in real life, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment, injury and an unhealthy relapse. However, if you start with 20 minutes of walking a day with a goal of completing a 5K run in six months, your odds of success go up exponentially. And from there, you can talk about completing a 10K or half-marathon before year end with even more ambitious goals in 2023.
Beating the odds
Trying to get your clients to modify their financial behavior in the new year can be quite challenging, too. But it can be highly rewarding if true changes result, Glenn Freed, Ph. D told me. Freed, chief investment strategist of New York City-based Syntax Advisors told me you’ll further cement your status as a client’s most trusted advisor if you can “frame” your legal, charitable or financial planning discussions around New Year’s resolutions. “You can have discussions in person or through a client newsletter. The key is to use these resolutions as a way to check in with clients throughout the year,” added Freed.
The experts seem to agree on one thing: to make any resolution stick, it has to become an ingrained habit. For example:
- Resolution: Quit smoking vs. Habit: Stop smoking that one cigarette you have every morning after breakfast.
- Resolution: Eat healthy food vs. Habit: Start substituting that one daily morning pastry for a banana.
- Resolution: Lose weight vs. Habit: Every evening after work, go for a two to three-minute run or walk around the block.
- Resolution: Manage stress vs. Habit: Meditate for two to three minutes every morning after you wake up.
- Resolution: Improve finances vs. Habit: Save an extra 2 percent of each paycheck and put half into my 401(k)s low-cost index fund and the other half into a high-yield savings account at my bank.
By immediately breaking down each resolution and seeing what the smallest habit could be, experts say your chances of succeeding will be 50 percent higher. And if even these incremental habits are hard to stick to, don’t give up. Tweak them so they’re manageable.
High performing advisors help their clients follow up on resolutions not only in December, but throughout the year. Framing the financial planning discussion in this way at the start of the year and then following up consistently can be an effective way to help clients stay on the path to financial resolution success. Make 2022 a great year no matter what COVID, the markets, the economy and geopolitical factors throw at us.
This new year, there’s only one resolution I guarantee you that I’ll keep: It’s to getting better at making resolutions.
Tell me what you think.
#productivity, #resolutions, #accountability