This Insights article was contributed by Dr. Adam Jones, Professor of Economics, and Dr. William Sackley, Professor of Finance.
The start of the year always ushers in a new set of resolutions (or sometimes the same ones as years past), including commitments to exercise, eat healthy, spend time with family and friends and career goals.
We hope 2017 is the year you finally figure out the secret to making the change stick. While resolutions are a good start, most of us lose our direction too quickly and repeat the cycle again next year.
To get us rolling in a new direction, here’s a quick poem to inspire us all to take on our financial tasks and some tips to help us turn our resolutions into results.
Twas the night before New Year’s, when all through the market
Everyone had cash and nowhere to park it.
The spreadsheets were done, examining every share,
In hopes that the IRS, might just be fair
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of college and cars danced in their heads.
And momma with her wine, and me in a hat,
Had just settled in for our annual budget chat.
When from the computer there arose such clatter,
It was a pop-up ad with Jim Cramer, all full of chatter.
Away to the stock charts I flew like a flash,
over financials I pored, in hopes of some cash.
With a little wisdom and patience, not quick,
I remembered the secret is persistence, not being slick.
When what to my tired brain finally appears,
but a plan for my family and wealth over years.
Now balanced, now spread, now diverse and steady!
On target, on time, at retirement and ready!
And then with trained hearing, I heard a small riot,
The noise of children stirring, trying to be quiet.
In an instant I sprang, all the way upstairs
To see the children playing board games in pairs.
With a smile on my face, watching my heirs
I knew my work and planning eventually would be theirs.
Transforming a resolution into a habit may require a commitment mechanism or automation. Examples include finding a friend to hold your feet to the fire on those early morning runs or joining a support group for other, weightier, goals to all hold each other accountable. The best resolutions are often tasks that start the process. Make a resolution to: ask two friends to meet your for workouts; find a relative with which to form a healthy eating pact and check-in regularly; open a retirement account; or fill out the paperwork to increase your contributions.
To achieve your goals, start small and build emotional momentum, and use automation to your advantage. This is particularly true in your financial and professional life.
Start by putting away a little money for retirement, paying down your smallest debt or going for that first long walk, and then use the emotional lift to tackle the next bill, save more or add a little job into the walk. We think the first small step will help to put a bounce in the rest.
Happy New Year!
Robert T. Burrus, Jr., Ph.D., is the dean of the Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, named in June 2015. Burrus joined the UNCW faculty in 1998. Prior to his current position, Burrus was interim dean, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department of economics and finance. Burrus earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical economics from Wake Forest University. The Cameron School of Business has approximately 60 full-time faculty members and 20 administrative and staff members. The AACSB-accredited business school currently enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students in three degree programs and 200 graduate students in four degree programs. The school also houses the prestigious Cameron Executive Network, a group of more than 200 retired and practicing executives that provide one-on-one mentoring for Cameron students. To learn more about the Cameron School of Business, please visit http://csb.uncw.edu/. Questions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.