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Happy new year.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And this week's video is sponsored by Skillshare.

And today, I want to kick off our 2021, which is going to be a banner year. We have a vaccine. We have a new president.

We have-- I don't know. We probably have other things than that, but those two things alone are totally game changers. We're going to have a good year.

We're going to get back into the bars and restaurants we love. We're going to just be spraying particles on each other left, right, and center. Just maskless hangouts, karaoke.

Can you imagine being in a room, yelling into a microphone with 10 of your friends again? Oh, my heart is racing just thinking about it. But we can't just be focused on all of the fun, debaucherous things we're going to masklessly do this year.

We're also going to have to think about how we can hit the ground running to make the most of this year. Because if we're being honest, a lot of us spent 2020 just getting by. And, now it's time to start thriving.

Now, let's get the elephant out of the room. If you set a New Year's resolution in 2020 and didn't keep it, that makes you a normal human being. My husband and I had a literal Moleskine journal that we spent several hours on New Year's Eve 2020 writing all of our little hopes and dreams, our plans, our travel, this, that, and the other.

And we did that with just such high hopes and naive, sad brains. And then not even two months later, the world was like, bitch, you thought. You will be doing exactly none of these things.

Your husband is leaving for an indeterminate amount of time. The world is shutting down. Everything is chaotic and bad.

You'll be lucky if you make it through the year without developing some sort of debilitating habit. But if you are feeling so discouraged about how not according to plan your 2020 went that you're thinking about not setting a resolution at all in 2021, your thinking is probably in the right place in the sense that most New Year's resolutions suck. But I don't think we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater and get rid of the concept altogether.

I think we should go into this year thinking about ways in which we can better ourselves and be more conscientious about how we're using our precious time. But the best way to do that is to be aware of the New Year's resolutions that don't work. But the first step to picking the right resolutions this year is identifying the ones that are a total waste of time.

So here without further ado are six resolutions you will never keep. Mona is on the edge of her seat about these resolutions. Number one is promising to stick to an exercise routine you hate.

So here's the thing about exercise. We all on some level know that most of us on average don't do it enough and our sedentary lifestyles are slowly killing us/also making us more depressed, but it's really hard to actually do something about it. And yes, committing in a certain year to getting more exercise than you did last year is a good goal.

But one of the ways in which you are most likely to sabotage that effort for yourself is by making a commitment to an exercise you do not like or really to do anything you can't stick to. At the beginning of COVID, people seemed to be panic buying exercise equipment the same way they were stocking up on toilet paper. In fact, Peloton's revenue went up 66% in Q1 of 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year.

But do you know how much a Peloton costs? Because buying one is at least $1,895, and that is not including the $39 monthly membership to the app that you'd basically have to have in order to really use it. Now, it is, of course, likely that people did end up spending more time on their stationary bikes in the year of COVID than they might have been doing before.

In fact, research found that in 2019, Americans were spending $1.8 billion on gym memberships that were completely unused. But before you go spending any money on any kind of equipment or any sort of investment in exercise, or even really make a promise with yourself that you're going to be doing it, do a rigorous self-assessment. And you can also see if there are ways to test out something before you do it.

For example, do you have a friend with a stationary bike that you could test out a few times? I think the better way to go when it comes to committing to getting up and moving around a bit more than you did is to start with the absolute smallest thing that you know you can commit to, and then use some kind of a habit tracker or accountability group in order to keep yourself true. For example, you might say, you know what?

If I do nothing else, I'm going to walk 5,000 steps a day. For most of us, that is pretty manageable. It could be even less than that.

You can say, I'm just going to stretch every morning for 10 minutes or I'm going to do yoga for 10 minutes. Do something small enough that you will be able to stick to it and allow yourself to snowball from there. And remember that even when you do decide to get equipment, you do not need to invest in the name brand.

Literally two of my own colleagues this year got regular, sort of cheap stationary bikes that they used with an iPad and the Peloton app to get basically the same experience. But they're still good quality. They're just not the overpriced Peloton bikes.

And we will link to a list of less expensive options in the description. And maybe something like a fancy stationary bike isn't for you, but there could be something else that is more easily integrated into your life. For example, for the years that I've lived in New York City, I've always, year after year, had a feeling of I should get a bike, I should bike around.

I live in a fairly bike-able area of the city. I have a commute to the office that would be extremely bike-able should I choose to do so. But one thing that always held me back from it is how inconvenient bikes can be depending on your route or how it is outside weather-wise.

So one of the compromises I made with myself is I'm going to get a bike for my Christmas/birthday birthday gift with my husband this year. But I'm getting myself an electric bike, which means that on times or weathers that it's convenient to do so, I can bike with my own two little legs. But in times when, for example, I might be going to an important thing at work and it's hot out or I'm going uphill, I can switch to that electric mode and just cruise effortlessly to my destination and get there with perfect hair only slightly dampened by my helmet.

I'm someone who loves to bike any time I'm on a trip where it's easy to rent one, and I've often found that getting electric bike can be a huge boon at those rentals when you're looking at a long day of biking. So it's something I've already established to myself that I will do once I have it. Whatever that could look like for you, figure out what is most adaptive to your lifestyle and work backwards from there.

Number two is a goal to get healthier without any specific metrics involved. A universal key to making sure that you follow through with resolutions is to make them as numbers-oriented and as action-driven as possible. A 2015 study from the Dominican University of California found that people who wrote action commitments for their goals, share their goals with a friend, and send weekly progress reports to a friend were the most successful at reaching their goal. 76% of these participants were at least halfway to reaching their goal by the end of the study, compared to just 43% of participants who did not have to write an action plan or share their progress.

And when it comes to goals of getting healthier, it can be extremely self-defeating to not have very clear parameters over what health even means in that context. Obviously being healthy can mean so many different things for different people. For some, it could involve weight loss.

For some, it could be more about sleep and posture and other things that we don't typically default to, but which can have huge impacts on our life. You could be more interested in changing how you eat or what you eat or how you exercise or to what extent you combine all of these things. But I find that with this sort of resolution, it's best to narrow in on any one specific element of health that you are most interested in changing and find a way to make those changes quantifiable.

For example, you may want to change how you eat because you don't feel that you've been eating super healthy all 2020, which has anyone? But an easy way to make a commitment in that direction would be, rather than start off with something very restrictive, commit to saying, I will have a certain number of servings of fruits and vegetables every day. This has a lot of benefits in that, A, it's not restrictive, it's additive, and it's focused more on the good things you eat than eliminating the quote, unquote "bad things." And when you're taking up more room in your stomach with things that are nutritionally dense and calorically low, you're naturally going to have less of an appetite for overeating things that maybe aren't so good for your body.

Similarly, you could focus on drinking a certain quantity of water every day or not using your tech in bed. Whatever it might be, narrowing it down as much as possible in focus and then making it as quantifiable as possible is the way to go. Number three, similarly, is going cold turkey on any food category.

Now, listen. Just demographically, most of us here at TFD grew up in the '90s heyday of fat free and low fat everything. We're talking cottage cheese, those delicious, but nutritionally dubious, SnackWells cakes, the Olestra Lays that gave people serious intestinal distress, and basically every food you can think of being marketed as low fat or fat free, which in most cases just meant pumped full of sugar.

And I'm here to tell you that not only did these low fat alternatives generally suck in terms of flavor and texture, they're also largely disproven as a long-term strategy to weight management. Harvard professor and public health expert David Ludwig wrote in 2016, "Despite concerns for the lack of high quality scientific evidence, the government and all the major professional nutrition associations had by the 1990s recommended that everyone beyond infancy eat a high carbohydrate, low fat diet. Americans were told to substitute all fats with a variety of carbohydrates, including six to 11 servings of grain products daily, as exemplified by the original food guide pyramid.

And so we substituted whole milk, peanut butter, and regular salad dressing with sugary, reduced fat versions. We avoided nuts, avocado, and dark chocolate while loading up on a variety of low fat treats and sweets. As a result, within one generation, the proportion of fat in our diet decreased from above 40% to near the government recommended 30%.

But rates of obesity and diabetes have surged, and the decades-long downward trend in heart disease seems poised for reversal." And one "study that same year found that people consuming a high fat diet had 16% lower rates of premature death than those consuming a low fat diet, although the type of fats played a significant role in determining risk." Now, the point is, of course, not to say that you should just run out and start eating sticks of butter 24/7, but it's often that the received wisdom around the miracle cure to the standard American diet making us largely sick is often causing problems that we won't even realize until we are years out of the fact and have more data to study. And it's important to focus on foods that make you feel good, and I don't mean emotionally. We're talking foods that give you energy, that help you sleep better, that regulate your digestion, that don't cause issues with your skin.

And for most of us, that will be a fairly balanced diet that has some fats, some carbohydrates, and a lot of fruits and vegetables. Generally, your doctor can help advise on a specific diet that would be adapted to your needs. Sometimes things like blood work come in handy here, but I think one thing we can learn from the years of yo-yo American dieting is that demonizing any one food group is probably not the way to go.

For those of you who might have been on the keto journey in the past few years that took this obvious negative impact of having a high carb, low fat diet on the average American to mean that carbs are the absolute devil and should be avoided at all costs, you do understand that in both extremes there's likely to be many people who react badly to such a diet. Focusing more on eating food that feels good and less on demonizing any one group is a more sustainable approach. Number four is cutting out all extra spending.

It is very easy at the beginning of the year to start thinking in terms of how to restrict your budget further and tightening your belt. But like with any kind of heavy food restriction, usually this sense of being deprived of things will end up leading us to make emotional spending decisions that we might later regret. TFD contributor Rocel Ubongden wrote about what happened after years of sacrificing every piece of extra spending in order to save as much as possible. "Since I was previously so focused on financially depriving myself, I didn't know what I wanted.

And I became selfish and ignorant with the things that I did end up buying. This led me to shopping almost every weekend, including purchasing high-priced skincare products, eating out at posh cafes and restaurants, and buying clothes that I wanted whether or not they even fit me. I was looking to buy things that would make me happy, and my search became reckless.

I completely discarded the promises that I made not to touch up my personal savings and emergency fund, dismissing all the financial lessons and discipline that I'd built up." Essentially, you may want to retool your budget going into a new year. But it's important to remember that if you're operating on a budget in which you are able to meet savings goals and generally not feel deprived, it's likely that if you continue to cut back on the things that bring you joy and give you motivation to stay true the rest of the time, you'll likely start having that sort of feast or famine dichotomy with your spending. Making sure to build spending moments that are totally superfluous into your budget makes them part of the overall budget.

And yes, you might add or subtract from that amount, but it should always remain a line item in your budget because not having it will create that negative cycle. Number five is saving a high dollar amount on a low income. Similarly to our previous point, one of the things that can set us up for not just failure on the terms of our resolution, but a complete feeling of disappointment in ourselves and demotivation for the things we actually could be achieving is to set a goal that almost sets you up for failure.

If your goal is to save a high amount and you're currently not earning that much, you will eventually realize that the only sustainable way to get there is to increase your income. There's only so many cuts that we can make to our budget. And in many cases, many of us are already living on an intelligent and thoughtful budget that doesn't already leave a ton of wiggle room.

Now, of course, it's common for many people to do this through side hustling, which even if this is something you only do a few hours a month can provide an enormous amount of extra resources toward a savings or debt repayment goal, as well as giving you confidence around the idea that you are not limited to your main job in terms of earning potential, in addition to sometimes making use of skills that you otherwise don't get to use at your job. But if you're looking to increase your primary salary, which for many of us is the easiest way to increase our earnings, you may first have to accept that in order to do that, you should be looking outside of your current company. According to a study from AVP, "The biggest beneficiaries are job hoppers in the information industry, who realize 9.7% annual wage growth, construction workers with an 8.7% increase, and professional and business services with an 8.3% premium.

Those who stayed at their companies earned about a 4% increase in pay. On average, those who chose to switch jobs enjoyed compensation growth of 5.3%." And the reasoning for this is simple to understand. It's likely that if you started earlier in your career at a specific company, you started at a more entry level wage.

And whatever increase you're getting annually is going to be based on that initial number. So even if you're getting a fairly high percentage increase, it's still based on a low initial number and it can be really difficult, even with a long time span at a company to outrun that initial issue. Now, sometimes a company is willing to go above and beyond in their compensation to retain you.

And if that's the case, that's awesome and take advantage of it. But for many people, they're going to have to move out to move up, especially in terms of their earning potential. It's incredibly valuable to have that fresh start with a new employer where your new salary is much higher and commensurate with where you are now in the industry versus where you were when you started with the company.

Lastly, number six is the same resolution you didn't follow through on last year. Especially because 2020 derailed so many of our best intentions for the year, it could be easy to look at this year as a complete do over and say, well, this thing I wasn't able to follow through on I should re-up this year because I'll actually be able to do it. But here's the thing-- COVID or not, most of the things that we resolved to do we probably still would have done in some capacity even with the limitations around us.

For most of us, if anything, COVID has given us more free time to work on ourselves because there's just not many things we can do socially or things to really spend our money on. In fact, on average, people who didn't lose their jobs during COVID ended up saving more this year than they did in normal years. And if there was a specific hobby or skill building or fitness goal that you didn't follow through on in a year where there was basically nothing else to do except work on yourself outside of your own work hours, it's probably an indication that it just wasn't intrinsically motivating for you.

Now, of course, there are a few categories of worker who were working way more than usual this year. But I would still say that in general, a resolution that is worth it for you is going to be one that you at least attempt to stick to regardless of circumstance. And it's not necessarily that the goal itself is inherently bad.

You might have just structured it poorly for yourself. Referring to our earlier point, it's important to look at the goal and say, well, how is I setting myself up for success? How was I making it quantifiable?

Because, as my favorite saying goes, what gets measured gets managed. Perhaps there could just be a simple rethinking of how you're framing the goal to yourself. Or you could add certain tools to your rotation that might help make it easier to follow through on.

Either way, it's important to remember that just because 2020 was a bit of a wash for a lot of our various life goals does not mean that it fundamentally changed the person you are or the things that were going to be motivating to you. So start 2021 with the best of intentions, but be realistic for yourself. And if one of our goals was diversifying your income as we mentioned before, or possibly seeking a new employer so you want to brush up your online presence, I highly recommend perfecting your personal and professional websites with Skillshare.

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The first 1,000 people to click the link in our description will get a free trial of Skillshare premium. As always, guys, thank you for watching and don't forget to hit the subscribe and join buttons and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Goodbye.