Why focusing on your long-term goals might be better than making a new year resolution you won’t keep

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At this time of the year, it’s common to make pledges or commitments that you hope will change your life for the better in the year ahead. From eating healthier to taking more exercise, resolving to improve yourself in the months ahead is a noble aim.

However, recent research from YouGov found that fewer than 1 in 3 Brits manage to keep all their new year resolutions. The study found 1 in 6 kept none of the resolutions they made.

So, is there a better way to achieve your goals than to make annual resolutions that are easy to break?

The problem with making a new year resolution

Have you ever struggled to get to sleep at night? If so, you may have found that the more you want to fall asleep, the less likely that becomes.

It’s the same theory when it comes to keeping a new year resolution. Recent studies reported by Psychology Today have revealed that having a strong desire actually impairs your performance when it comes to completing on demanding tasks – such as keeping a resolution.

Furthermore, the negative correlation between the strength of your desire and the success rate of your performance is even stronger when it comes to tasks that demand self-control, which can often be said for many new year resolutions.

In simple terms, you put huge pressure on yourself when you make a new year resolution, and this makes failure more likely.

Focusing on your long-term goals could provide you with a better outcome

As financial planners, we’re not just here to help you generate returns on your money. Our role is to help you to establish what it is you want to achieve with your life and put a plan in place to help you get there.

Typically, this plan will run for decades – through your working life to the latter years of your retirement.

Without first clearly establishing what your goals are, it’s hard to create a plan. If we don’t know what you are saving for, why you need to protect yourself, and what your tax circumstances are, it’s hard to know where to start. We first need to know what your longer-term ambitions are.

These might be to:

  • Live a long and comfortable retirement
  • Retire early
  • Buy a second home
  • Ensure your children or grandchildren can achieve all their life goals, such as going to university or buying a home
  • Leave a legacy to family, friends, or causes you are passionate about
  • Downsize later in life
  • Reduce the amount of tax you pay.

So, rather than making short-term resolutions this January, taking a much longer-term view and considering what you’d like to achieve in the future can release the pressure of waking up each morning knowing that you have to fulfil the commitment you set for yourself.

Focus on your future self

In a recent article, you read about how those who think more about their “future self” tend to save more. Thinking about a long-term goal – retiring early, helping your children and so on – can make you more disciplined when it comes to your finances.

It’s the same theory when it comes to new year resolutions. Ignoring short-term financial commitments and instead focusing on what you’d like to achieve in years to come can help you to stay on track.

Of course, your plans might change along the way. Often you change in ways you have no control over – through the influence of other people, or as a result of external events. However, managing this change is easier if there is no New Year’s Day pressure to weigh you down.

Additionally, your financial planner is alongside you every step of the way. Regular reviews can ensure that you’re still on course to meet your goals if your circumstances change. If you’re not, they can help you to identify any changes you could make that would help you to steady the ship.

Get in touch

If you want to take control of your finances in 2023 or create a long-term financial plan that can support you in achieving your goals, we can help.

To find out more, please email us at enquiries@blackswanfp.co.uk or call 020 3828 8100 today.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.


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