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A New Years Resolution

Published by: Lytle Rather, CFP® Date: January 08, 2016

As 2016 begins, many of us will reflect on the past year and measure how it met our expectations. The results, or lack thereof, can help us formulate what we might resolve to change in 2016. A recent survey by the Brain Institute reported about half of us set these firm decisions, or resolutions, at the start of every year. The same study showed 75% of us stuck with our plan for a week, 64% made it 1 month, but only 48% were still sticking to the plan 6 months later. What happens in the span of 5 months that causes so many of us to abandon our plans?

Two of the most prevalent areas of resolutions pertain to diet/exercise and our finances. These areas are the most challenging to strive toward and most easily remembered when we fall short.
The daily feedback when we weigh ourselves or the guilt from missing a trip to the gym can be discouraging to the point of giving up. Short-term discouragement is a major factor for many of us abandoning our resolutions so quickly. However, beating ourselves up over a small setback should not stop our dreams. The importance of being able to see our kids grow up, becoming a grandparent, taking memorable trips with those we love, or having the energy to pursue a charitable passion must be strong enough in our minds to keep us moving in the face of insignificant setbacks.

When it comes to our financial well-being, it is also easy to abandon our resolutions. Many of us measure success against the daily or quarterly movements in the stock market, specifically the Dow Jones or the S&P 500. History tells us if you looked at the S&P 500 daily from January 1st , 1973 to December 31, 2014 you would be disappointed 48% of the time (20 years of pain) and disappointed quarterly 31% of the time (or 13 years of pain). However, over the 40-year span $100,000 grew to $6,252,000! The bigger picture of our long-term financial plan must carry the day and be our focus. Our financial plan must be a lasting roadmap that will allow us to help our children go to college, be able to pay for weddings, spend time with grandchildren, take trips without blowing the budget and giving freely to causes bigger than ourselves.

The journey towards meeting our resolutions is a winding road. It offers many opportunities to allow short-term failures into our lives that could bring us to a place of guilt, fear, and anger. These emotions keep us from the long-term impact we want to achieve. Let’s resolve to make 2016 a year where our eyes remain firmly on our final destination and shed the baggage of temporary disappointment.

Lytle Rather, CFP® is co-founder of Rather & Kittrell. He can be reached at lrather@rkcapital.com