By: Kelly M. Lewis, CFP®, JD, LLM
I’m sure you have all seen the “new year, new you” blog posts on anything and everything; finances, weight loss, exercise, travel, career goals, etc. In fact, I think it was just last year at about this time that I wrote a similar blog for everyone to read. This year, I want to try something different. As I’ve been considering writing this article, I could only think of one person that I know in my whole life that has ever actually successfully stuck with a New Year’s Resolution for a whole year. Just one! She gave up cookies! Instead, I want to take this time to guide you to revisit 2021, and then reflect and refresh.
Take a minute and see if you can think of a financial decision you made in 2021 that you would not want to make again… now, let’s see what we can do to move on from this mistake. What we have done in the past is already in the past. Maybe you are still working on fixing the financial decision or maybe it was a quick fix. Either way, let’s take a look on how to move on in 2022 and recharge your financial awareness.
Step One: Own it. We all make mistakes, especially financial ones. It is so easy to blame others or blame our circumstances. Sometimes, one or both can be valid concerns. But will blaming others help overcome this financial error? Probably not. Take ownership of the issue and see what you need to do to adjust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ideas for correction. Sometimes financial decisions need a course correction. The first thing you have to do is acknowledge that you need it.
Step Two: Learn from it. Here is where the New Year comes into play. As you are reflecting on what you’ve done in the past, the most important part of this reflection is what you can do in the future to make sure the error doesn’t happen again. This can be anything from a small financial decision, budgeting issues, or getting yourself into what may seem like an irreparable financial situation. Whether you are working through the financial decision still or you have left it in the past, take the time to build a change into your habits that will prevent this from happening again.
Step 3: Plan it. This one is just for those that are still working through a financial mistake. Some can take a year or years to recover from. It’s okay. Remind yourself that it is in the past and you are working to fix it. If you’re avoiding it, stop doing that now. Face it head on and come up with a plan. It will make you feel better to know you are actively doing something to course-correct. If you can automate your course-correction, do so. Out of sight, out of mind. Knowing you are doing something in the background that you don’t have to stress about every day will reduce financial stress and improve wellness overall.
Step 4: Move on from it. You can’t carry past mistakes with you forever. Finances are one of the leading causes of stress in our lives. It is important to work through them and then leave it in the past.
For 2022, take any financial mistakes from your past that you may be holding onto and move forward. Don’t dwell. Financial wellness is a very broad area to target, but refreshing your mindset and forgiving yourself past mistakes is essential for future financial health. Stick with it and work through it. And if you want, go read some of the many blogs on a financial “New Year, New You” to get some ideas on how to improve your financial wellbeing. Focus on your wellness and then reflect, recharge, and refresh your mindset. Good luck!