Make It Just a Little Bit Better

by Kevin on December 31, 2013

As the ball drops tonight you will be too busy to sit down and write down solid New Year’s Resolutions.

That’s okay. Most of these resolutions are worthless. They lack accountability, scheduling, and drive. (There’s not much difference between your average New Year’s Resolution and a wish of magical unicorn wishes.)

The problem with resolutions is we stand up a giant manmade mountain at the front part of our year. We have lofty ambitions, and that’s good, but we set the bar impossibly high to start the year.

We get so intimidated by the goal that we procrastinate on making any real progress.

…or maybe that’s just me.

Just a Little Bit Better

This year, resolve to make things just a little bit better.

Instead of resolving to run a marathon, resolve to go running three times per week.

Instead of resolving to start a massive new business, send out an email to your friends and family with a link to a main page.

Instead of resolving to be in a completely different financial situation, resolve to pay off $100 per month in debt or to save $1,000 in your emergency fund or to cut back $10 per week in spending.

Don’t get me wrong. I love big, detailed, Excel spreadsheet-based plans. I’ve done them; they work… if you actually are held accountable to those plans you can have a phenomenal year.

Baby Steps

Build a plan, sure. But build it with baby steps that ramp you up toward the overall goal.

Your BHAG — Big Hairy Audacious Goal — can actually be achieved. But you can’t do it by just throwing it out there and hoping you get motivated to do it.

Set up small, achievable milestones along the way. Milestones, pauses, plateaus… whatever you want to call it, use them as guideposts on your way to your goals. The milestone depends on the goal. You might set up monthly goals if you want to run a marathon. Run 1 mile in January. Then 3 in February. Continue growing until you can run the whole thing.

For financial goals you might set up a monthly goal and a quarterly goal. Instead of knocking out $1,000 per month in debt at the beginning, start with $100 per month for the first quarter. Then grow it each quarter by $300. By the end of the year you’ll be at $1,000 per month.

The Alternative

Of course the alternative is to keep doing the same thing you’ve done for the past few years. You’ll get the same results as before unless something mysteriously changes. I think someone once said that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

Can you even remember last year’s resolutions? All of them? What about the year before?

Something has to change. Do something different this year. Start small. Take the first step. Have a destination in mind, but remember your milestones along the way. Get to the plateau. Rest. Celebrate. Continue on.

Happy New Year to you and yours. Let’s have an awesome 2014.


Laurie @thefrugalfarmer January 2, 2014 at 8:01 am

Kevin, awesome post!!! We started 2013 with a 65% DTI, and so our only choice was to “make it just a little bit better”, but it really does work!! We dropped our DTI down to 57%, and even have a little bit in savings, all because we chose to do something instead of nothing. Great advice here, my friend!

S. B. January 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm

As you point out, the problem is not really with lofty goals, but rather with the lack of a plan to get there. Small, achievable steps are a must.

Simon @ Modest Money January 24, 2014 at 8:46 am

Kevin, I completely agree with you on this. I was reading the other days on goals, turns out, they aren’t that effective. We forget too soon, the fire we have at the beginning fizzles soon. What does work is systems!
You want to write that ebook – set out to write 500 – 1000 words a day everyday, some of it will be garbage ofcourse, but in there will lie nuggets of wisdom, refine your craft and you just might end up with an ebook…same for all those others Big Hairy Goals, have systems.

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