“Resolutions” are in the air!! And just in time, we have a 5-step program to help you achieve them. They are based on our experiences – which includes learning to invest right after college, giving up processed grains, and losing weight through a diet and exercise regimen. We have tried, we have succeeded and we have failed – this is what we have learnt.
I will also add my learning from a personal example here. In 2017 I decided to not buy any clothes, shoes, personal electronics, etc etc for a year. Absolutely nothing.
The resolution was as much about self-control and minimalism as about taking a small stand against a life of accumulation that we are taught to follow from a young age – more toys, more colours, more clothes etc.
The one quote that summed it up for me is –
Owning less is far more beneficial than organizing more.
Now onto the 5-step program and how it helped me in “No Buy ’17”.
One thing at a time
Change requires a lot of mental effort so don’t divide it among few different resolutions. Identify what is most relevant for your happiness and well being and dive headlong into it. Research shows that will-power is a limited asset, so spend it wisely on what matters most to you. So, if cleaning your financial house is top of your mind, then let losing weight and starting yoga wait for another day. When it comes to resolutions – do not diversify 🙂
This one is simple but very important. Choose one thing that is most important for you. When I did “No Buy ’17” it was the only resolution I had. I wasn’t aiming for getting ripped, writing a novel and not buying anything in one year. With a long list, you have lost the battle even before the year has started.
So, keep it to one thing at a time.
Keep it simple
And realistic. Say you have never invested before, but in 2017 you want to start investing like Warren Buffet or Peter Lynch or Bill Gates. Odds are you will be overwhelmed by the knowledge and work required to invest like them. So, keep it simple. Start with a monthly investment plan (SIP) and build your knowledge of how the market works. If you realize you have the time and the interest to do better, then go for it, become a full-time investor.
My objective function was very clear.
Rule 1: I will not buy any new personal effects (clothes, shoes, electronics etc) in 2017
Rule 2: Lookup Rule 1
Socialize your plan
Tell everyone what you want to achieve this year. Make it public on Facebook or Twitter and follow up monthly on your progress. Get people to help you with insights and with keeping you honest. This may sound hard, but friends love getting behind you for a good reason. It is easier to achieve a goal with friends!
I set up a private Facebook group called “No Buy ’17”. I spoke about my goal with my friends and eventually, 18 of us embarked on the journey together. The group included people from India, US, HK and UK.
We used the group to share articles of interest such as this, this, this and this.
We had our own little tribe.
Habits! Habits! Habits!
A resolution is good, but to succeed you need to convert it into actionable habits. Yes, regular habits that help you achieve your larger goal. Say you want to invest like Buffet. Some habits you may want to inculcate would be –
- Read 5 investing books every month
- Analyze 5 company balance sheets every month
- Invest money every month to get a sense of market volatility
Without establishing habits it would be hard to get to the larger goal.
For a “no-buy” goal, habits were hard to define. I made a conscious effort to be more mindful when I am at the mall. We also did a simple aye/nay vote every month in our group so everyone could keep everyone else motivated.
Finally, believe you can bring about the one change that you think will make you the happiest. It is possible – millions do it every year and there is no reason you won’t be able to. Follow the calendar approach to augment your self-belief and visualize your path to success – for every day that you follow your new habit mark it as an X on a wall calendar. And for every 60-90 X marks reward yourself for your hard work.
To not buy without thinking whether I truly needed something new ensured I didn’t buy anything for a complete year. It has changed my consumption habits for the better since then as well.
Here’s hoping your new year is as life-affirming as you want it to be. If starting to invest is part of your New Year’s resolution do visit us at kuvera.in
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January 2, 2021 AT 12:12
Fantastic! The “one thing at a time” is such an underrated strategy. It’s even told by Captain Picard (in the latest Star Trek: Picard, Season 1). And you also make a great point about willpower being a limited resource and habits being the main driver for achieving your one goal.
I want to share another important change of mindset that I’m trying to employ — which is, finishing what we start. I don’t have a starting problem, but rather I’ve a finishing problem. I have all these exciting things I want to learn as a software engineer, and I tend to get quite distracted and impatient. So much so that I’ve not finished mastering some of the things I always wanted to learn for the last 15 years in my career. And I’ve regretted about it every year.
I came across an interesting point about reading books (by Bill Gates, I think). It’s that he never stops reading a book in the middle (unless it’s an absolute trash) even if he doesn’t agree with the subject matter. And he makes sure he never does this by first carefully picking a book he absolutely wants to read. Never.
One impossible thing at a time. This is my resolution for this year, too. And to not drop it in the middle. Picking a task and sticking with it till the end, until it fails or works, is an achievement in itself.