Personal Improvement

Figure Skating and 2016 Goals

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Figure Skating and 2016 Goals

It’s the time of year to reflect on the past twelve months and set goals for the new year. What does figure skating have to do with it? Tune in to find out.

At LMM we prefer the word “goals” to “resolution.” Resolution has almost come to mean failure in three weeks time. We think framing our resolutions as goals will help us reach them. Sometimes you just have to trick your brain!

Why January 1?

You can see the appeal. Everyone likes a clean slate and the slate is never cleaner than it is on January 1. But what if you woke up with a hangover and despite resolving to eat more healthfully, you order breakfast from McDonald’s? Are you going to wait 364 days to try again? Of course not. You don’t have to wait for a certain day to change a habit.

Year End Review

Rather than making the same old tired resolutions, which at a certain point become traditions, look back at the year that just passed. What would you have liked to do better? What did you not manage to get to at all that you still want to pursue? If you did achieve some goals, what helped you to do so?

By looking back at this things, we can better craft goals for the new year and put systems in place to help us reach them.

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Day, Week, Month

If the goals are too vague, “save money,” lose weight,” they are hard to track and hard to work towards. Each day, week, and month should have things to do in order to reach the end goal.

If you want to save money, how much money? If you want to save $1000 to start an emergency fund, you can have a daily goal of not buying coffee on your way to work. You can have a weekly goal of bringing lunch from home just three of five days a week (because you want some wiggle room or you’ll get sick of it and give up). You can have a monthly goal of cutting your grocery bill by 20%.

Any goal you set for yourself should have a timeline and a deadline. Marking off time in smaller chunks like day, week, and month helps you to move forward and track your progress. If you get to the end of the day, week, or month, and haven’t achieved what you set out to, you can reassess before much larger chunks of time have passed so you’re not content with giving up and waiting for that clean slate of January 1 to come around again.


Priority: “Something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first.”

That definition makes perfect sense. A priority is the most important thing. So how can you have more than one? You can’t but somehow, we all do. And that’s why so many of us fail to achieve our priority because we spread our focus across multiple priorities.

This year make it a goal to do almost nothing. But do a small number of things that matter. Those two statements might seem contradictory, but not as contradictory as having more than one priority.

Some Goals Can Be Fun!

Not all of your goals have to be a slog. Saving money and losing weight, while wonderful things to do that will reward you in many ways for many years, are not really very fun things to do.

So pick at least one goal that is fun to do. For Thomas, it was to have more fun after work. A lot of us can probably relate to this. You come home from work and make dinner, tidy up, pay bills, watch TV. Except for making dinner, for some of us at least, none of those things are fun.

So Thomas signed up and paid for, an ice skating class. A goal like this can kill a few birds; the original of doing more fun stuff after work, because another friend has signed up, Thomas gets to spend more time socializing, and skating is good exercise, although I know he was already doing pretty well in that area. If you can find a way to wrap up a few goals into one, you’ll get more done in less time.

No Is A Complete Sentence

Has someone ever asked what you’re doing tonight and you think, “Not going to that boring sounding thing you’re about to invite me to,” but you form that though instead of a reason you can’t go and now you’re stuck?

You have two choices to overcome this. You can always have an excuse at the ready. This is a bad suggestion. Sometimes you get stage fright and freeze in the moment. If this happens, you end up not even being able to use your great excuse and instead blurt out a “Yes” which you instantly regret.

Or you can just say no. That’s it. Nothing comes after it. This doesn’t work in every situation. If your partner asks you to take out the trash, this is a bad strategy. If your mother invites you to Thanksgiving, you probably owe her a bit more. But for pushy salespeople trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, annoying colleagues trying to pawn off their work on you, girl scouts trying to wreck your diet with their gross little cookies. No is enough.

Health Goals

I can go off on a tangent about this subject but I’ll spare you since this is not a health and wellness podcast. I’ll just say, if you want to improve your health, it doesn’t have to be expensive and time-consuming. I’ll give you a few things that you can do in just a few minutes that are easy and quick:

Lemon Water: As soon as you wake up, squeeze half a lemon into a mug of lukewarm water and drink it. There are all kinds of claims about this practice, some that are pretty hard to believe, but it does give you a nice hit of Vitamin C and it does get some water into you and many of us could stand to drink more water.

Tabata Workouts: If you want to torch fat and improve your cardiovascular health, spending an hour on the treadmill is not the way to do it. Get a jump rope and follow a Tabata protocol. You can find a free Tabata Timer App and download it onto your phone. You jump rope as fast as you can for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat this 8 times. I might have lied about all these being easy. Tabatas are hard but they are effective and over fast.

Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked: Science is just now starting to understand the importance of Vitamin D. Having optimal levels, between 50-70 nanograms per milliliter, can make a tremendous difference to your healthy. The RDA is woefully inadequate, just 600-800 IU’s. To just maintain current levels, you would need more than double that, 2000 IU’s. I take 5000 IU’s a day.

Getting adequate Vitamin D in the winter can help stave off seasonal affective disorder. A lot of those winter blues can be attributed to low levels of Vitamin D because for most of us in the US, the sun isn’t strong enough this time of year to provide Vitamin D. Unless you are able to get Vitamin D from the sun, you must supplement. It’s not possible to get an adequate amount from diet alone.

Ask your doctor to test your levels. It’s just a simple blood test and if you’re low, Vitamin D3, which is the kind you want to buy, is not expensive.

Boom. There you go. Three fast, simple, cheap ways you can improve your health.

Be A Friend’s Leader

I wrote about this ages ago as a way to save money on socializing so Mr Money Mustache might have stolen this from me. Instead of letting others decide how you’ll spend your socializing dollars, decide for yourself. Step up and make the plans. If you’ve ever stood around in a group of friends while everyone hedged and dithered over what to do, you know how annoying it is that no one will step up with a plan. You may not always win out, but most of the time people will just default to the person who finally makes a suggestion.

2016 Is Upon Us

Don’t make the same old tired resolutions you’ve been making for the past five years. While you don’t need that clean slate to get started, you have it right now so you might as well take advantage of it.

Show Notes

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Candice Elliott - Senior Editor Candice Elliott is a substantial contributor to Listen Money Matters. She has been a personal finance writer since 2013 and has written extensively on student loan debt, investing, and credit. She has successfully navigated these areas in her own life and knows how to help others do the same. Candice has answered thousands of questions from the LMM community and spent countless hours doing research for hundreds of personal finance articles. She happily calls New Orleans, Louisiana home-the most fun city in the world.

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