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A New New Year’s Resolution

By MARY ELLEN KALUZA

January always brings up the whole New Year’s resolution business – a promise to change our behavior. As I thought about resolution ideas, I found myself getting cranky. Resolving to do anything besides making it through the day in the darkest and coldest time of the year is insanity. The last thing I will do in January is throw away the remaining Christmas cookies or go out in the cold to exercise more. The failure rate of New Year’s resolutions is 80%. Eighty percent! Why would we set ourselves up for failure only to feel worse about ourselves? Yet, it comes up every year: we are asked to set a goal we almost certainly will not achieve.

    That is not to say we shouldn’t set goals that will help us prosper, live longer, and enjoy those longer lives. I propose we hold off on making promises to ourselves until the sun is higher in the sky and we aren’t so cranky to increase our chance of success. “Fourth Month of the Year’s Resolution”  doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as neatly as “New Year’s resolution”, but I can live with that.

    What should your Fourth Month of the Year’s resolution be? We all face different challenges and desires in life – no one resolution fits all. These dark days are the perfect time to think about what we want, what we need, what we have, and what fears weigh on us…easy enough to do from the couch. Having those lists will be helpful when the Fourth Month comes around.

    For me, growing older creates the most anxiety. What if I develop a serious health issue that requires difficult decisions; or I become a burden on my family? Your fears or desires might be more immediate: The car is running on borrowed time; you really want to buy a home; you finally know what you want to do with your life but your defaulted student loans are in the way; or maybe your doctor is warning you about diabetes. (That last one was a plug for eating well and exercising more – still very good resolutions.)

    When the Fourth Month of the Year is nearing we can pick our goals under the warm spring sun with renewed hope. I may resolve to complete my healthcare directive to save my loved ones the difficult decisions, and select my Power of Attorney for when I can no longer make sound financial choices. You might decide to set up a dedicated savings account for that newer car or your own home; meet with a student loan counselor to get your loans on track and pursue your dream career; or join a gym.

    Just think – no cookie will regretfully have been tossed out when we needed it the most, and we will have a fighting chance to be in the 20% of resolution success stories! And, hey, no rules against getting it done before that Fourth Month. Happy New Year!

Mary Ellen Kaluza is a Certified Financial, Housing, and Reverse Mortgage Counselor.

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