Could ignoring financial resolutions lead to a richer life?

The trajectory of our lives is a pretty straight line. Yet any particular day could be the one when everything changes. A new day, a leaf turned – a turn in the straight line.

New Year’s is no different. Except that it’s when ambitious proclamations of change are made – most of which last only a week or two until old familiar patterns win out. One source claimed that Jan. 12 is the date when the most people report failing on their resolution.

When it comes to finance, the changes we undertake are usually related to saving too little, spending too much, not investing smartly enough or not paying down enough debt.

Instead of focusing on specific “zones of unhappiness,” maybe we should look at the backdrop in which those zones exist.

You may have seen Netflix’s latest sweetheart, Marie Kondo. Have you emptied each closet and drawer before folding all your favorite clothing into little stand-up soldiers? “Tidying Up,” the petite Japanese now-millionaire calls it.

And, you may have flirted with the popular minimalism movement for a moment, but weren’t convinced that 75 percent of what you own is unnecessary.

Without going to such extremes, it’s useful for us to recognize that our consumerist society has saddled us with too much stuff. Too many rented storage units, clogged garages and filled attics (keep in mind the money lost buying those items).

Life outside our homes has become hostile as politics and society have collided. That has magnified the value of having a peaceful retreat for at least part of the day. To achieve that, consider choosing one room in your home and minimizing what is in it. See if that doesn’t bring a little relaxation. Where clutter causes your body to tighten, open spaces can cause it to expand.

Instead of acting from the negative messaging of a resolution to declutter, allow the positive vibe to motivate you to do more this year.

Technology makes us reachable at all times and has invaded virtually every moment of our waking hours. Whether through smartphones, tablets or watches, we are bombarded by interrupting beeps and texts. Even our thoughts get truncated.

Consider putting down all electronics at home for short designated periods. If possible, integrate some activity into that time that requires interaction: sitting down to dinner, making a family decision or discussing your retirement plans.

Consciously or not, we all have “what if” conversations going on in our heads at all times. On a superficial level, it could be “what if I hit bad traffic or “what if it snows.”

But on a more visceral level, it could be “what if I lose my job” or “what if my spouse dies.” The subconscious goes haywire running down all the possible scenarios, often starting with the worst case.

The result is low-grade stress that plays out quietly in the background. Anything that does happen in our lives is added to that stress. Our overreactions may surprise us, but they come from actions landing on a backdrop of silent discomfort.

Those mental scenarios persist because we have not thought through the consequences of life’s possibilities. It’s called “not planning.”

Being ignorant of our precise financial situation, not knowing where documents are and not having a plan for whatever occurs just make it worse. When constructing a financial plan, we will use scenarios to explore what can derail a client’s plan.

Consider listing the three most disruptive events that could realistically occur in your life. One by one, think of what you would need to know or have to react effectively, with the least possible distress. If need be, engage professional help – from financial planners to spiritual leaders. In 2019, get ready for “whatever.”

Then lean back and enjoy life more fully, and in greater peace. As for those resolutions you didn’t make? They may just take care of themselves.

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