Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

It’s the beginning of a New Year, a time of new beginnings when many people set goals for themselves and make their New Year’s resolutions; but according to Wikipedia, in spite of all this optimism and confidence, only 12% of people who make resolutions will actually achieve their goals!

Why is it that so many people let their goals fall to the wayside? What happens to all that New Year’s exuberance and optimism? Well according to Jonah Lehrer of The Wall Street Journal it’s all about biology. Lehrer says that the area of the brain responsible for willpower—the prefrontal cortex—is like any other muscle: it must be worked and strengthened if you expect it to perform feats of strength.

If this is true, then it makes sense that the success of your New Year’s Resolutions would depend in large part in how you go about setting them. Just as you can’t become a bodybuilder by saying “this week I’m going to bench press 200 pounds,” you can’t become a model of health and beauty by saying “this month I’m going to lose 50 pounds.” Rather, large goals are achieved by setting smaller, measurable milestones: “This week I will have fruit as my afternoon snack instead of potato chips.”

So how does this apply to our blog? Achieving financial security, a strong retirement plan, or a successful estate plan is no different than losing weight or quitting your smoking habit: it comes easiest when you take it one step at a time—and when you have a little bit of help. Instead of making a vague goal such as “this is the year I’ll get all my legal issues taken care of;” take smaller, more measurable steps such as “this month I will call and make an appointment with the attorney.”

A smaller goal such as the one mentioned above not only means less pressure at the outset, it also gives you an ally, someone who can help you along the way; and that’s exactly what our firm hopes to be.

Happy 2010!