3 financial New Year’s resolutions and 6 steps to turn them into reality

The holidays are now in our rear-view mirror as the new year is upon us. Naturally, many people are feeling self-reflective and are re-evaluating some of their life choices – maybe it has a little bit to do with that smoking credit card burning a hole in your wallet from all the holiday spending.
Luckily, 2018 is a brand-new year; it’s a chance to start anew and curb some of your less desirable habits. This week I’m talking about your finances.

You see, most people know they have financial issues they’d like to remedy, but a lot of us don’t exactly know where to start. And since the vast majority of people fail to stick to their resolutions, you’ll need all the help you can get.

What I have for you in this article is a list of financial New Year’s resolutions you should make this year, followed by a cheat sheet that will help you follow through. The content in this article should give your all the ammunition you need to make 2018 a better financial year than 2017.

Here’s to a prosperous 2018!


What kind of goals should you make?

1) Decrease your debt

According to the Globe and Mail, the average amount of consumer debt – does not include a mortgage – in Canada is $20,967 and non-consumer debt, which does include your mortgage, makes up 163% of disposable income. In the US the average debt per indebted household is more than $131,000 (NerWallet analysis). With this data in mind, paying off high-interest consumer debt – credit cards and personal loans – should be a top priority.

2) Spend less

78% of people live paycheck to paycheck (Career Builder), and, according to the same report, this includes 1 in 10 making $100,000 or more. Some of this can be blamed on an inflated cost of living without a matching increase in income. But, based on the consumption of consumer goods and surmounting consumer debt, some can also be explained with frivolous spending. 2018 is your year to tighten up the purse strings and cut back.
3) Earn more

What’s your passion? Maybe starting your own business and working for yourself has been at the back of your mind for years – start now!

The best way to eventually become your own boss, while also supplementing your current income: a side hustle. With a side hustle you can get involved in something your truly passionate about and build your self-employed income while you still have the safety and security of your day job.
There’s plenty of opportunities out there (I’ve even talked about multilevel marketing on this website). For more ideas, check out this list by Side Hustle Nation: 99 side hustle business ideas you can start today.

How do you make your goals a reality?
Identifying what you need to do is great, but the more important part? The how. How do you turn a simple goal into a reality? With these 6 steps.

1) Define a clear goal

Be clear; be concise; be specific. It’s not good enough to say, “I want to decrease my debt,” instead, you should say, “My credit card right now is at $5000, I want that to be $0.”

2) Turn a negative into a positive

It’s a little trick from Dr. Will Meek, a psychologist in Vancouver, Washington. By wording the goal as a positive, you prevent your brain from thinking it’s giving something up. For instance, saying, “I’m going to spend less by not spending money on frivolous things,” could be replaced by, “I’m only going to spend money on things I truly value.”

3) Focus!

Do less. Everyone comes into the new year thinking they will be able to completely overhaul everything in their lives; wrong! If you really want to make successful change, focus on one to three things that are really important.
This way you don’t spread yourself too thin and you have the energy to commit to ensure your success.

4) Track your progress

Luckily, most financial goals are measurable because they involve numbers – nothing could be simpler. Because your goals are measurable, you can track your progress and define landmarks: this is essential for maintaining motivation.
Our goal was reducing our credit card from $5000 down to $0. We can break this down into 10 $500-dollar payments over the year, turning a mountain into a mole hill. Plus, we get the added satisfaction of watching ourselves make our goal a reality in real time as the balance decreases.

5) Make sure it’s realistic

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with not trying to do too much all at once. Telling yourself you’re going to pay off the mortgage on the house you just bought last year in 2018 is just setting yourself up for failure.

6) Give it a timeframe

This means they have a deadline. Again, going back to our credit card example: We have 10 $500-dollar payments to reach our goal of reducing the balance on our credit card to zero. If we do one a month we could have it all paid down by October (write this down and make it a hard deadline for yourself).

Conclusion
Stick to this list and you stand a much better chance of succeeding in making your financial goals a reality and avoiding the majority of people whose New Year’s resolutions are just that: resolutions.
One last thing: when you’ve accomplished your financial resolution for 2018, give yourself a reward! You’ve earned it.
Let me know about your resolutions in the comments, and if you’d like some more advice, please contact me; I’d love to hear from you.

And be sure to follow the blog and Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

Taking a week off from the gym during the holidays won’t kill you; it could actually make you stronger

The holidays: that special time of year when health and fitness is at the back of everyone’s mind.

“That’s a 2018 problem,” they say.

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2018: The magical land where all the hard work gets done.

But you disagree. You’re committed. I mean, you haven’t made all these sacrifices (the early mornings, eating right, fast days, protein shakes, going for a run instead of binge watching Netflix) for nothing.

The thought of throwing it all down the toilet while you’re away visiting family – or on a beach in Mexico, if you’re lucky – can be anxiety-inducing. You just can’t handle staying out of the gym that long.

I know these people: people that haven’t gone more than two consecutive days without working out.

These are also the people that plateaued ages ago.

They come in every day lifting the same amount of weight and setting the treadmill to the same speed they always have. Nothing changes.

What are they missing? Adequate recovery.

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Get more by doing less? How’s that for a mind-pretzel?

Taking a week off from the gym and letting yourself fully recover mentally and physically won’t negate everything you’ve worked for so far; in fact, it’ll make you stronger.

Maybe you’re so committed to the gym that just reading that sentence gave you a sour, bitter taste in your mouth.

But, please, just hear me out.

Read on and you’ll find out why you need a recovery week (spoiler: it has a lot to do with avoiding the danger of overtraining) and how to do a recovery week properly.

We’re in the middle of December – there’s shopping to do, family to visit, trips to go on, and parties to go to.

Due to all the craziness, this is the perfect time to plan your week off.

Trust me, your body and mind will thank you for it.

Why you need a recovery week

While you may think you’re withering away, getting slower and sloppier the more days you’re away from the gym, nothing could be further from the truth.

First off, inadequate rest can have a severe consequence: overtraining syndrome.

Overtraining syndrome happens when you’ve gone too hard for too long.

With overtraining syndrome, all the things you need to grow, build, and increase fitness – protein synthesis, proper hormone production, cellular energy – slow down. Your body goes into protection and survival mode.

From a progress perspective, this is the worst place you can be.

You need enough rest to prevent overtraining and keep your body in growth mode.

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Lack of rest can prevent you from making solid fitness gains.

Extended breaks from training also provide a mental lift – the brain is arguably the most important organ involved in performance – and trigger powerful physical and biochemical changes aiding improvements in fitness in the long run.

Exercise places stress on the body. It’s this stress that initiates adaptation and increases fitness.

While exercise is the time for stress, recovery is the time for adaptation; one cannot happen without the other.

Its during recovery that important biochemical, neural, and hormonal changes occur: these change your body so you can lift more, or run further, next time.

If you short change your recovery, you don’t allow these changes to have their full effect. It’s kind of like paying for an hour massage and leaving after 30 minutes – you made the investment, why not stay for the full benefit?

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You’ve already made the investment, now capitalize on it.

While an extended break may seem counterintuitive, it can help stave off the harmful effects of overtraining (helping you push passed plateaus), it provides a mental lift, and it allows the body to positively recover from the stresses of exercise.

Enough rest could be what’s missing from your regular routine that will push you to the next level.

How to take a recovery week

When I talk about taking a week off from working out, or other types of intense activity, I don’t mean completely throwing caution to the wind, parking on the couch, and eating Cheetos until you can no longer tell the difference between your natural skin color and the pigment of Cheeto dust.

Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to take a body vacation.

The right way depends on two things: timing and your behavior during the recovery week.

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Get out and take a walk.

Step 1: Schedule your week off

Ideally, it’s in the midst of the holiday season at a time when it’s going to be difficult to get into the gym anyways: when you’re away, family is over, or maybe your gym actually closes down for a stretch during the holidays.

Knowing when you’re going to be on break also allows you to plan your workouts accordingly. You want to be ramping up the intensity until your recovery week.

Step 2: Nutrition

Yes, you still need to eat well.

While your body is trying to recover and repair itself it needs proper fuel and nutrition – antioxidants, protein, BCAAs, etc.

Step 3: Light activity

It’s a good thing to get out and do something light, but you shouldn’t do an activity that you normally do intensely.

For example, a runner shouldn’t go out for a light jog; they’d be better off with a walk or a bike ride.

Doing something too similar may trigger the competitive part of your brain – we are creatures of habit after all. A runner trying to take a light jog may feel the motivation to try best their usual time once they start moving. Or, maybe, they’ll think they aren’t getting anything out of the run if they’re not going as fast, or as far, as they usually go.

Keep it simple, keep it light, and make it different.

Conclusion

Taking time off for rest may seem like blasphemy, but some much needed R and R may be exactly what you need to come back in the new year feeling stronger and better than ever.

Trust the science and trust the process. A well thought out recovery week will do you good.