What's Your 2020 Vision?
This January we are not just entering a new year but a new decade!
I just got off from our annual family goal-setting and we took into consideration what has happened in the last decade. For my kids, the development was huge because last decade they were all still kids!
I’m really happy that we kept this year-ender goal-setting tradition. (Read: Family Goal-Setting Tradition) I’m even happier because some families have already made it theirs, too. Such a warm feeling I get when I receive positive feedback from families who are benefiting from the tradition. No matter what anti-New Year’s Resolution people say, there really is that power of a fresh start. In Behavioral Economics this is called the fresh start effect. Studies show that temporal landmarks like new year, birthday, anniversary, etc. enable us to be more effective at setting and achieving goals.
Have you ever had a magic slate? It was one of my favorite toys when I was a little girl, and we can all learn from this simple and inexpensive toy.
I wish to share the “magic” that this toy brings that could help us accomplish our goals for the year and the decade.
- The immaculate image of a white canvas brings hope. If we know that we are starting fresh, with no specs of wrongdoings, we tend to be optimistic and are able to summon the best in us. This is why we start the year hopeful because we have not done anything wrong yet! We’re given a clean slate as if receiving blanket forgiveness for all our shortcomings in the past. So, let’s take advantage of this image of a clean slate to muster all our energy and optimism to forge ahead and do what we have to do this year or decade for that matter.
- Novelty has the power to create new habits. When one is in a new chapter in life, whether positive (promotion, new home, newly-wed, etc.) or negative (break-up, lost a job, a household helper or a loved one, etc.), it is easier to develop a new habit. A family who got rid of the driver and has to find ways to bring the son to school may be a blessing in disguise. On the days the mom has to bring him to school, she can finally go to the gym early morning. On the dad’s days, he can now have a regular one-on-one conversation with his son at least twice a week. So the next time we’re pushed out of our comfortable routines, find ways to create a habit that’s beneficial.
- Weaning from an old habit is helped by the concept of a clean slate. For parents of younger kids, weaning their children from the bottle and the matrimonial bed is quite a challenge. In our experience, it was best to make an “event” out of them. Weaning should not be perceived as a loss or a detachment from something but more as a passage. So it was important for us to “package” those events as stages. The weaning was then associated with an accomplishment of a certain stage making them ready for the next stage. For bottle-feeding, it was before they entered pre-school (2.5 to 3 years old). For sleeping in their own bed/room, it was when we finally built our house. From a small 2-bedroom apartment, it was easier to make the transition because everyone was excited to now have a bigger own space. Our oldest was 4.5 and the second was less than 2. Our third had not been conceived yet. He also moved in with his older brothers at age two. For mama’s tutoring, it was upon entering grade 2 and was packaged as “You’re now an independent grade schoolboy!” (Note: I highly recommend 3-year gaps for children as this was an important aspect of my transition of tutoring from son 1 to 2 to 3. This made it possible for me to just have one tutee at a time.)
- Keep your “clean record” clean. There is a surge in the number of gym-goers at the start of the year. Exercise is probably in everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions. Then there is a drop in attendance after a couple of months, and a further drop later on. Why is this so? Because once we’ve put a spec on that “clean record,” it’s easier for us to miss another session, and another and another, until we finally decide to stop it altogether. This is why we have to be very careful about missing a good habit. Since we know that there will always be days when we will miss a session, we have to “trick” ourselves a little. Let’s say we promised to exercise at least three times a week. The moment we miss one day of that MWF schedule, write in your calendar how you intend to make up for that one hour. It can be with a Saturday or an extra 30 minutes in your two other days. Once the mind is convinced that our commitment has not yet been broken, it will be easier for us to go on and keep the habit, because we still have that “clean record.”
- Do not always count on your will power. In all aspects of life whether in our health, wealth, integrity, we should not always assume that our well-formed will power can be counted on to make the right decisions every single day for us in order to achieve our goals. We have to resort to life hacks that will make it easier for us to always do the right thing. The less decision-making needed, the better. Believe me, the presence of too many choices can be debilitating (“Should I save and invest now or later when this and that excuse are already in place?” vs. “I’ll sign up once now so that every payday a percentage of my salary is automatically deducted and invested.”)
As we start the new decade, I wish you all an energized and optimistic attitude as we start the year with a clean slate. Let’s get rid of all the negative clutter from the past that burden us and waste our energy. If for any reason, we fail to do the things we set out to do as the days pass, don’t worry too much. If Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolates, I say, “Life is like a magic slate. If we make mistakes, all we have to do is lift up that upper sheet (lift up all those concerns to God) and voila! We can start over again.”
Have your best decade ever!
Rose Fres Fausto is FQ Mom (FQ stands for Financial Intelligence Quotient). She was an investment banker turned full-time homemaker and now a writer and speaker on money and family. She’s a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and Behavioral Economist, having trained under Dan Ariely, the Father of B.E. Richard Thaler, and recently completed a B.E. course at the Harvard Business School. She wrote bestsellers Raising Pinoy Boys, The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions), FQ: The nth Intelligence. She has a weekly column in PhilStar.com and regularly contributes to other magazines.
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AUTHOR BIO Rose Fres Fausto is FQ Mom. FQ stands for Financial Intelligence Quotient. Investment banker turned full-time homemaker, she is now a writer and speaker on money and family.