N'DIGO - MoneySmart Guy Matthew Sapaula

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3 Tips to Make Your New Year's Resolution a Reality

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Matt Sapaula

I am a proud father, financial strategist, TV commentator and financial talk show host of Money Smart Radio

While taking my kids to the gym this morning, I was pleasantly reminded that it is the first weekend of the New Year, New Decade.  Yup, the gym was PACKED!  Many resolutions began to take a reality and I was glad people were taking ACTION!  In the grand scheme of things, how we handle one aspect of our lives has a "trickle-down" affect into other areas too.  For example, how we handle our personal lives has bearing into our professional decisions.  How we take care of our spiritual lives can manifest into our mental, physical or even financial being.

I was encouraged this morning by such a packed gym to write down some thoughts that can help encourage a continued journey to making a resolution into reality. (Yes, this does include how you can better handle your personal finances too!)

President Obama, as you recall, had campaigned CHANGE as his path to victory. Yet, it is ultimately up to us to carry this vision into our reality. I personally witnessed thousands of people from all over the world converge to Chicago with excitement and conviction that history was being made. What an experience it was, drawing many to tears as we all saw the dawning of a new era in America.

OK, now what.

What is our action plan for the next morning, the next year or the next generation? What sticks in the back of my mind is whether we, individually, can take the same time many invested to campaign and watch Obama take victory to build up our own knowledge, wisdom and support to make our own dreams happen. Or will we just settle to live vicariously watching someone else win and succeed?  You see, it really is up to us in order to make change mean something. The change we hope for dwells within us. We are change.

Why can't we make the beginning of our year a BOOM for ourselves just as the fitness industry or tax preparation businesses experience? Why not have this year find you to be the difference-maker within your family, your generation and your circle of friends?

For New Year's resolutions to change our circumstances, we must have a clear emotional connection to the results we seek. I recall extensive media coverage of citizens shedding tears of pain and joy during Obama's campaign and especially, his victory speech. Those citizens held a strong connection for the message and vision of Obama and therefore made efforts to make certain his path to the White House became closer and ultimately, reality.

Fear can paralyze you in mediocrity

I believe one of the reasons that resolutions never get carried out is because it requires us to be uncomfortable for a while! And since our comfort zone is somewhat predictable, anything outside of it has no guarantee of success. Unfortunately, that is why many give up too soon and continue to live a life of quiet desperation. Some get stuck with mental paralysis by listening to their own negative self-talk. This self-imposed fear soon manifests into excuses. But champions like the great Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali and Barrack Obama, (yes, even Tiger Woods) solely believe in the things that serve them which allow them to better position themselves for success. They did not allow their upbringing, race issues, family predispositions or even old friends distract them from the purpose and destiny they believe called to do.

It has been said that we are only born with two fears. Those two fears are the fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Notice how both fears are natural physical reflexes. Every other fear is taught and self-directed. In order to bring ourselves to a year of resolution, we have to ask ourselves, what FEAR is holding us back from the greatness, purpose and destiny I was born to fulfill?

Rebuilding Our Confidence

In order to get the change we want, we have to change our set of beliefs and behaviors. Albert Einstein defined insanity as "continuing to do the same thing over and over again but expecting different results". Unless someone is able to take 100% responsibility for their own actions, it is much easier to STOP and find something less intensive that will make them feel better. True transformation is not a casual process.

Is our economy and personal financial situation a reflection of who we are? Are we not capable of more? Are we not capable of serving and giving back more? Are we really fed up of being fed up? Maybe what has happened to us all, job losses and foreclosures, is not fair. But no great change happens without a large feeling of discomfort.

Maybe this year is that EYE OPENING RESOLUTION to ourselves that we are capable of MORE!

Taking Action at the Start of the New Year

1. Always find yourself becoming a better YOU!

At any point in your life, you're either growing as a better person or settling for mediocrity. Even within a tragedy, someone can find life-changing opportunities for greatness! It is said that most people never pick up a book after high school and when they do, never read past page 19. People who live the most happy, fulfilled lives are constantly evolving in character, wisdom and contribution. What can you do differently this year that helps edify and build you up?

2. Power of Focus

We live in a society of multi-tasking and always being accessible via phone or email. There is power in the word, NO. It is OK to turn off that cellphone and not check email during parts of the day. Do not confuse activity with productivity. People will have to respect your time and value your attention. That way you are less stressed. What few things can you concentrate on doing that give you the greatest energy and passion?

3. Maintaining accountability and support

In one of the best-selling books of all time, states "If a man compares himself to himself, he is a fool". You may find yourself a fast runner amongst the group of people you normally hang out with only to take a step back and realize that everyone else was just walking. We need to get around people who stretch, motivate and inspire us to the greatness we all have inside. When was the last time you did a personal inventory and affirmed, outloud, your personal beliefs, talents and accomplishments?

BONUS TIP for parents with high school seniors:  Submit college FASFA forms and tax preparation early -  For most people, the first two months of the year represents the time of the year to review their existing financial circumstances. In the mail they receive the bills from Christmas, W-2 forms reflecting how much money you made at your job and other 1099 forms from savings accounts or mutual funds. This is a great time to assess your finances and get a jump start ahead. Financial aid from colleges are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis on properly completed forms (www.fasfa.gov) and tax refunds remind us how much we gave Uncle Sam throughout the year. What adjustments can you make with your financial counselor so you can send your children to college without compromising your own financial security?

Well, I hope thus far this helps...to read my full article on this topic, you can visit my radio show's blog by clicking here.  Please let me know your thoughts by dropping your comments below or emailing me: mgs@moneysmartradio.com

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