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Giving Canadians a Head Start in 2003

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 31 December 2002 00:00

Making New Year’s resolutions may be a dangerous way for Canadians to begin 2003. Western society promotes the custom of making commitments to start the year on the right foot. However, these assertive statements may become self-defeating illusions that could reinforce the sense of powerlessness over change that is left from 2002.

Many Canadians make New Year’s resolutions -- publically-declared attempts at abrupt personal change – that initially create the illusion of progress and a fresh beginning. When resolutions crumble, they can leave a publically humiliating sense of failure and a negative launch to a new year. Success with self-directed change lies in striking a balance between society’s customs and proven methods for nurturing self-discipline and personal improvement.

Would you like to save enough for a down payment on a new house, pay off that mortgage by the time you’re 45 or adopt any new “money” habit? Any housing goal you set for yourself can be accomplished if you start now and start right.

  • Timing is all

    Canadians put the emphasis on “beginnings” as ideal times for change – the start of the year, the first day of the month or the beginning of a new week. These are not the only, or necessarily the best, times to initiate improvement. Try the 26th, a Friday or the end of something to start fresh. What’s wrong with now?

  • The approach to success

    Resolvers who succeed do so because of the way they approach the task, not because of the date on which they start. If you want to change your behaviour, transform a bad habit or achieve a goal, start right now as you read this. Decide now that you have changed and then all you have to do is continue. Most Canadians try to think themselves into change, but the best way to get results is to act as if the change has already been made. Then fine tune your behaviour as you learn the new “money habit” and readjust your value system to make the improvement permanent. Finding ways to improve once you’ve started is much easier than getting yourself to begin doing something perfectly.

  • Another danger in New Year’s resolutions lies in public declaration. Many Canadians feel that by telling everyone their resolutions they can embarrass themselves into action. If you must enlist the help of others in achieving your goals, get cheerleaders and coaches to support you, not hecklers and nay-sayers to undermine your efforts.

    I can hear you ask, “Yeah, but what if I can’t resist the old ways? What if I continue to spend, spend, spend instead of holding back on credit card debt and putting more into RRSPs and other home-buying plans? Sliding back into well-worn behaviour ruts does not cancel out success. Interrupt old patterns and put things back on track. The old first reaction may linger a long time, but you can replace this with a strong, conscious effort to improve that you exert next time and every time.

    Here are a few proven practices to put to work:

  • Resolve to do what you want to do, not what you should do. Home ownership is not right for everyone.

  • Talk is cheap. There is only one person to convince – yourself. Commit to your improvement on paper and be specific.

  • Set reasonable time frames for creating a new money habit.

  • Identify the steps to success. Use “do-able” steps and an action plan to get from step to step as smoothly as possible.

    Best wishes in 2003. Keep celebrating your housing achievements – anytime and every time.

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