The tree is down, the decorations are packed away, and the last few strands of tinsel have been hoovered up. Time to relax…
January has earned a reputation for being a notoriously mundane month, but many of us appreciate the peace and quiet it brings. The madness of Christmas is over, and it’s back to reality as the routine in our lives is restored.
A time to reflect
Now that you’re not busy indulging in festivities, you have some spare time to sit down and reflect on all that you achieved in 2016. How far did you get in accomplishing your goals – Did you kick that nasty habit? Did you buy your first home? Did you land your dream job? This is your chance to celebrate all your personal achievements, both the small goals and major milestones.
A tougher exercise (but a necessary one) is to think of the mistakes you made in 2016. What should you have spent more time doing? What opportunities did you miss? What’s your biggest regret?
…And to plan ahead
Now you’ve got that covered, it’s time to turn 180 degrees and focus on the future you. January is your chance to start afresh; to set new, realistic goals, and to possibly think of how you’re going to accomplish last year’s failed ones.
Visualise yourself a year from now. Are you two stone lighter? Are you decorating your new home? Have you quit smoking? You need to get in the right mind-set, preparing yourself by understanding what needs to change, and why.
Don’t hold back
Get creative with your goal setting for the year ahead. Let 2017 be the year you overcome your fear of flying, re-kindle a relationship left on bad terms, or do something crazy for charity. Park your fear of failing aside and apply for that dream job!
Procrastination: the one thing holding you back from reaching your goals. You’re aimlessly scrolling through Facebook instead of meeting with a mortgage broker; you’re laughing at cat videos instead of researching savings options.
Just imagine what you can achieve if you put every minute of your day to good use. Focus on those goals, and don’t waste another second!
A little inspiration
Last year may have whizzed by, but still, an awful lot can be achieved in twelve months. We asked a few people how they’ve turned their lives around in the past year – here are some of our favourite responses:
- This time last year, my partner and I thought that we couldn’t have children. We’ve just celebrated Christmas with our two-month old, and couldn’t be happier.’ – Jenny, 32
- One year ago I was still living with my parents. They told me they were downsizing, which was the push I needed to start looking for a place of my own. I’ve now bought my first property and hosted Christmas day at mine!’ – Chris, 26
- I started 2016 in the red, so made it my year’s mission to clear off lingering debts. Now, with a more structured budget and better financial planning, I’ve managed to pay off my credit card and store cards.– Julie, 48
- A year ago I had little to no savings. But I gave up smoking in the New Year, and banked the money I’d usually spend on cigarettes. I’ve managed to save over £2,500 so far, which I’m planning to put towards a new kitchen!’ – Anna, 34
- Honestly, I spent last Christmas feeling a little lost after retiring in October. But now, my wife and I have just finished putting plans in place for our three-month, round-the-world trip.’ – Dave, 62
Financial health check
Once you’ve set yourself resolutions for the year ahead, you need to make sure your financial habits support those goals. So now is the ideal time to not just reflect on your achievements, but to review how you managed your finances last year – and if, or how, you can improve this year.
Did you save as much as you hoped in 2016? Did you manage to see some improvements on your investments?
Many goals require you to commit financially. If you want to buy your first house this year, work out how much you need to save each month to build up a decent deposit. If you weren’t so good at saving last year, what spending habits need to change? Do you need to cut back on eating out? Could you save money by cancelling that gym membership you never use?
Also, take this opportunity to review the deals you’re currently in. If you already have a mortgage, could you get a better deal by switching providers? Are your savings generating the best rates of return where they are?
The start of a New Year is the perfect time to reflect on the past, and to gaze forward to the future. You’ve identified your mistakes and learned your lessons; now, it’s time to set the wheels in motion to achieving your future goals…