Twenty-twelve is wrapping up, so I wanted to take a minute to reflect on properly doing your New Years resolutions. Many people seem to think that New Years resolutions are ways to define what you’d like to be doing (for example, lose weight, or get a different job). Instead, New Years can be an opportunity to do a diagnostic self assessment. You might begin by asking yourself some of the following questions. I’ve taken them more or less from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich“, which is an excellent guide for doing the mental work required to gain wealth.
So, here are some questions to see how you’ve done over the past year.
1) Have I attained the goals I set for myself this last year?
2) Have I done the best job/provided the most service/produced the most I could? If not, why not?
3) Have I gotten along with others in a friendly and positive manner?
4) Have I allowed myself to procrastinate? If so, how much?
5) Have I been persistent in following my plans?
6) Am I able to make decisions quickly and easily?
7) Have I let myself get psyched out or have I given into my fears and not achieved my goals?
8) Have I been to cautious or not cautious enough?
9) Have I tried to accomplish too much and spread myself too thinly?
10) Has my conduct been such that my colleagues and associates respect me?
11) Are my conclusions based on accurate analysis and thought or impulsivity and whim?
12) Did I budget my time, income and expenses in a conservative manner? Did I follow my budget?
13) How much time did I waste? If any, how can I put it better use next year?
14) Have I done anything that I thought was unethical or bothers my conscience?
15) In what way have I done a better job than I was paid to do?
16) Have I been unfair to anyone? If yes, how so?
17) If I had hired me, would I be satisfied with my purchase?
18) Am I in the right job? Why or why not?
19) Are my goals appropriate for me? Are they realistic and attainable?
20) Have I been open minded and tolerant in my dealings? Have I been respectful of others and mentally open to evaluating new deals or investment opportunities?
Once you’ve honestly answered the questions, you should be in better shape to market yourself, negotiate with your boss, change investing strategies, change friends, or do what you need to improve your personal and financial returns for the coming year.
While its a little tedious to sit down and work through these questions, they can help give you a critical sense of how well you’re doing. This is important because attaining financial security can take years with a long term focus on goal maintenance and achievement. Most millionaires are over 35 (1) which means it takes time to get rich. Just as another example of this general principle, my wife and I have been together for about 10 years, and its taken us that long to achieve net worth of $840,000. So, the bottom line is that getting financially secure isn’t an overnight thing, it takes continual monitoring and lots of work.
Other than needing to say on top of things, doing this kind of review and planning work improves your investing return and ability to save money. Statistically speaking, research has shown that people who spend more time planning have higher savings rates and higher levels of wealth. So, doing the review and planning work is important because it helps make you richer faster (1).
If you get a chance to pick up a copy of Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. It is a great read, especially as the book is instructive in helping you get focused and motivated.