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Keeping your New Year’s resolutions

As a New Year dawns that annual excitement is in the air, when you start thinking about fresh starts, turning over a new leaf and kicking off a New Year’s money resolution.

To help you win a resolution in 2017, you should consider fine-tuning your goal so you’re primed for success. For starters, your goal should be specific. “I want to save more money” is fuzzy; “I want to put an extra Rs. 5,000 toward my car loan debt each month” gives you a starting point and a tangible outcome. The other components of a rock-solid, reachable resolution? A realistic time frame, strategies for dodging roadblocks and a plan to maintain your motivation.

But even the most well-thought-out resolution game plan may not be enough if you don’t have the support to help make it happen. That’s where a surprising success strategy comes into play—talking about your goal with the people around you. It’s something most of us know intuitively: Discussing a financial New Year’s resolution with others will make you more likely to stay the course.

Of course, bringing up your money goals with friends and family can be awkward. Since money is such an intimate subject for a lot of people, it has traditionally been very shrouded—we’ve been raised to believe that talking about it is an intrusion. It’s human nature to compare yourself with others in your social group, which can make financial conversations uncomfortable. Whatever your money resolution focuses on, here are three ways it pays to push past the awkwardness and go public.


You’ll have someone to answer to

Keeping quiet on your resolution can tempt you to cheat, since nobody is keeping tabs on your progress. But spreading the word holds you accountable—and makes you more likely to follow through. People, who share their goals with a friend, accomplish them or are at least halfway there four weeks later, compared to those who keep their ambitions to themselves.

This extra motivation to deliver good news and not let your friends down plays an important role in staying the course. Ask a friend to check in with you once a month. That text or tap on the shoulder asking you how things are going reinforces your commitment.

You’ll Nail down the Details

Mapping out specifics can help you become a money resolution success story. But talking through your goal with trusted friends can help with this by encouraging you to go into even more detail about your resolution—and all the ways you’ll get around potential problems. You could get an even stronger handle on how to navigate temptations (like avoiding clothes shopping during every sale) and what action items you need to complete to help reach your goal.

After you share your goal, encourage friends to fire off questions about your plan of attack: Will you still splurge on restaurant meals? Will you increase your savings? Rather than a vague pledge, you’ll be compelled to firm up your plan—which, is a key element of success.


You’ll Boost Your Motivation

You know how fun it is to talk about a trip in advance: deciding where you’ll stay, the kinds of food you’ll eat and the new things you’ll try while you’re there. Obviously, mapping out a budget isn’t as exciting as organizing a vacation overseas. Still, discussing your intentions ahead of time with a friend who’s enthusiastic about your mission gives you one more way to supercharge your motivation.

Excitement has a mirroring effect that can help you stay focused on the positive. Instead of thinking about what an uphill slog it’s going to be to tighten your purse strings, you’ll imagine the reduction of worry and sense of pride you’ll feel next year, once you’ve made financial progress.

In other words, sharing your goal gives you a cheerleader along the way, someone to help celebrate your wins and boost your morale. A friend’s support lessens the likelihood that you’ll throw in the towel. And continuing to share details of your progress will give you those periodic boosts that are crucial to helping make a resolution stick.

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