What’s your New Year’s resolution? You might be considering a new diet or exercise regimen, but as you look to shedding a few pounds, you might also consider trimming down your budget. You could be thinking, Hey! You’re only supposed to have one New Year’s Resolution! That may be true, but what if you follow the exact same steps for both goals? Then reaching them will be a piece a cake (or really, a sliver of celery).

1. Set reasonable goals that you can look at regularly. 

Start by setting a 5 minute timer. Then think, where do I want to be in 1 month, 2 months, 6 months? Write down as many ideas as you can think of — losing 15 pounds, going to the gym 5 days a week, saving $5,000, starting an emergency fund, ect. When the timer goes off, take the next 2 minutes to circle just two of the goals you wrote down. Circle the two you feel are more important to you and will make the greatest impact on your life. (The rest you can save for later.)

Now, spend 10 minutes writing down all the little things you will need to do to reach those two goals. For example, if your goal is losing 15 pounds, you may write down some of the following:

  • Get a gym membership
  • Workout for at least 150 minutes each week
  • Plan meals on Sunday
  • Only eat desert once a week

When you finish, you should have two goals with a series of action steps for each goal. Before you get started, set a deadline for you to reach each of these action steps and a deadline for you to reach your overall goals. Finally, hang your goals with your action steps somewhere where you will look at them each day, such as on your refrigerator.

3. Determine weekly focus areas.

It’s hard to make lifestyle changes all at once. Many of us try to do 300 different things then give up on all of them. Instead of overloading your plate and feeling like a failure, break your changes into manageable chunks. For example, if you have a 4-week goal to start an emergency fund, your weekly focus areas may look like this:

  • Week 1: Determine how much I need in my emergency fund and set weekly savings goals.
  • Week 2: Print out credit statements and determine where I can cut down on spending.
  • Week 3: Open a separate savings account for emergency fund.
  • Week 4: Begin moving money into emergency fund.

2. Set regular check in times for yourself.

Once we set a goal, it’s easy to walk away from it for weeks or months at a time. Instead, set a weekly check-in for yourself. I like Sundays, because I can look at my week ahead, but pick a time that is convenient for you. During these check-ins, ask yourselves these questions (I find it helpful to write down my answers):

  1. What is one positive step towards your goal you have taken? What made it possible to take this step?
  2. What is one setback you have faced?
  3. What are 1-2 modifications you can make to your goal or lifestyle to avoid similar setbacks in the future?

When you finish, look at your week ahead and think about what changes you need to make to better reach your goals.

Following these steps will help you set and stick to your goals! We hope you have a wonderful New Year and find all you are seeking.