Wow, in the blink of an eye the first month of 2020 is gone. The kids are back at school. Everyone is back to work. Which makes me wonder, how is everyone going with their new year resolutions?

A saw a survey recently that said 79% of Australians make new year resolutions. These were typically around wanting to lose weight, get fit, do more travel and get their finances sorted. As easy as these goals sound, according to Joseph Luciani, a clinical psychologist based in the US, 80% of people fail to keep them. Why?

Dr Amy Cudd, a Harvard psychologist, believes the main reason that people don’t achieve their goals is they only have the end result in mind, and they don’t have a realistic plan to get there. After a few weeks when they haven’t made much progress they give up.

The approach I take with clients when we look at their goals, whether they are financial or personal, is to break it into three parts.

  1. The first is setting the goals. When setting your goals, it is important that they are what you really want and are clear. If you have to sacrifice other more important aspects of your life to achieve them, your chance of achieving them is significantly reduced.
  2. The second is make sure you have a plan that is realistic. If you need superhuman powers to achieve them, there is a good chance you will give up. A good idea here is to break it up into mini goals so that the end goal doesn’t seem so daunting.
  3. Finally, have some accountability. This comes in two parts. It is important to have some personal accountability, as a lot of the time you are the only one who knows if you are sticking to your plan or not. The second part is having someone else to offer support and guidance along the way. There is a reason why support groups are used to address things like alcohol or drug addiction.

Below is an example of how I would help someone if they came to me with a goal of wanting to get rid of their $15,000 credit card debt.

Firstly, I would find out why they racked up the debt and what they will need to sacrifice to get it paid off. If they had to put the costs of an emergency on their card then there shouldn’t be any worries. However, if it has been an ongoing problem then there may be more effort required, especially around what they need to give up or stop doing.

Once we address this, we would map out the best way to get it paid off. This could include rolling it onto another credit card with an interest free period, making regular payments or accumulating savings in an offset account and then paying it off at the end of the interest free period. Whichever way we went, we would try to have stages along the way that we could measure progress.

Finally, we would put in place a plan for how progress would be tracked. This not only makes them more accountable, but importantly helps to keep them motivated.

If you want to discuss how you can achieve your goals with an independent financial adviser, book a chat via the button below or call us on 0417 034 252 or email at

About the Author
Phil Harvey is an independent financial adviser. In 2017 Phil set up his company Construct Wealth to help clients best manage their finances so they focus on what is important to them. He is a founding member of the Profession of Independent Financial Advisers and a tax financial adviser, registered with the Tax Practitioners Board.

General Advice Warning
This advice contains general information. It may not be suitable to you because it does not consider your personal circumstances. Phil Harvey and Construct Wealth are authorised representatives of Independent Financial Advisers Australia (AFSL 464629)