By Lindsay VanSomeren
I don’t know about you, but I always find it hard to stick to my New Year’s resolutions. In fact, for most of my life, I’ve failed.
I knew that had to change once I started side hustling. Wishful thinking wouldn’t help me earn and save more money; action would.
That’s why I became obsessed with learning how to form successful habits. Since I’ve started using these techniques, not only have I stayed on the resolution bandwagon permanently, but I’ve seen a huge increase in income.
In fact, I used to earn just $2,000 per month at my day job. But with the new habits I formed using these tips, I earned as much as $9,200 while self-employed in October 2017!
Want to learn how you can kick your butt into gear for the New Year? Check out these 9 tried-and-true tips.
Set SMART goals
You may have heard the phrase, “a goal without a plan is just a wish,” and it’s true.
Instead, make sure your resolution is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART).
Rather than setting a wishy-washy resolution like “I want to lose weight” or “My goal is to earn more money,” put a plan with a deadline in place. For instance, commit to losing one pound per week for the next 20 weeks. Or, design a step-by-step plan to earn more money.
I followed this rule of thumb when I started freelance writing. I committed to sending out five cold pitches per day—every day—regardless of what kind of response I got. Most people said no or didn’t even respond. But the ones who did respond led to the launch of my business.
Don’t let slip-ups derail you
Everyone will fall off of the bandwagon at some point. Expect it. Then: dust yourself off, and get back up.
I got cold feet after getting my first few clients. I stopped pitching articles to them, and therefore I stopped getting paid. At that point, it would have been very easy for me to fade away and drift back to my comfortable sofa and TV each night.
Instead, I decided that was unacceptable. I reached out to those clients again, and even started looking for new clients. Before I knew it, I was back in the saddle after a two-month hiatus.
Pick one resolution to achieve success
It’s easy to go on overload when making New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight! Start a business! Take a course! Read a book a week! Volunteer to teach yoga in your daughter's school. Run a 5k!
Instead, take it one step at a time. Pick one resolution that you think will make the most difference in your life - one that you also think you’ll stick with.
For example, I bought a course online to help me start my side hustle two years ago. I made a commitment: I will do this course, and the things in it, and that’s it. I had to give up learning French and playing the guitar, which I really wanted to do. But since I didn’t have those distractions, I was more successful in completing the course and learning something new.
It’s a good idea to seek out a course that will help you achieve success in a new field - and maybe even help others along the way. Luckily, there are tons of online courses available and if you do your research, you may even be able to save money by taking advantage of a sale. For example, if you’re interested in yoga, wellness, mindfulness and working with kids, check out Pretzel Kids’ online teacher training program. You can take this course at your own pace in the comfort of your own home. Once you finish, you’ll become certified to teach the Pretzel Kids curriculum anywhere you want! Think about it: you can teach classes in schools, camps, gyms, dance centers - just about anywhere kids congregate. You can set your own hours and pricing. The sky’s the limit to how much money you can earn. Better yet, you’ll be doing something fun while helping children deal with stress and get fit!
Find ways to make it fun
You may be excited about your goal now, but once you get started, it may just turn into another chore. Hitting the gym again? Ugh.
Instead, find a way to make it fun. Be creative. Make a chart on the wall and fill it in with colored markers for each day you’re successful. You can also treat yourself to a piece of candy, or find some other way that makes it fun for you.
One thing that really helps me is posting a calendar on the fridge, and marking how much money I earn each day. I write about some really boring things sometimes, but I enjoy seeing my income on the calendar (#humblebrag).
Create a routine around your new habit
It’s sometimes hard to commit to your new habit. But if you create a routine around your habit—ideally, stacking it alongside something you already do—you’re more likely to stick with it.
For example, I wanted to start checking my budget each day so I didn’t get behind on entering in purchases (the numbers never make sense if you wait too long). I already brew up a fresh cup of tea first thing in the morning, so I combined these habits. After I make my tea, I open my budget program and update it while drinking the tea. Now, if I don’t open my budget while drinking tea in the morning, it seems weird.
Take a minute each day to visualize what success looks like
You have a damn good reason for choosing your New Year’s resolution. So, each day, remind yourself what it was.
For me, I started side hustling because I wasn’t earning enough money in my day job and I wasn’t happy with the work. So, each morning before I got started, I pictured what success would look like: a full bank account (opening up my budget software each day helped with this), no money stress, no debt, and being happy to go to work.
This helped keep me motivated through the tough times. It was the carrot at the end of the stick.
Use apps and programs to help motivate you
The great thing about the digital age is that there are tons of tools to help you in your quest! Here are few that I really like:
- HealthyWage rewards you if you’re successful in a weight loss goal
- Beeminder keeps you on track each day towards a goal you define
- Charity Miles and Walk For A Dog donate to charities each time you exercise
- StickK allows you to create a commitment contract with stakes to reach your goal
Find an accountability buddy
If you’re the only one who cares about reaching your goals, it’s easier to fail (that entire dark chocolate gelato pail is tempting, after all).
Instead, find someone or a group with a similar goal to help hold you accountable. This can be a workout buddy, a Facebook group, a mastermind group, a mentor, or even just someone you check-in with regularly. My own mastermind group has been enormously helpful in keeping me accountable to my goals (even when I'm struggling).
If you don’t have anyone who you can ask, consider using one of the self-accountability apps above. And, if you took an online course, you may be able to connect with another student or even the course creator to help you meet your goals. Along those lines, you may want to consider signing up for a coaching program. Although some coaches charge hundreds of dollars, there are also super affordable options out there like the individual coaching and business building service available to those who take the Pretzel Kids course. For only $19 a month, you’ll get coaching calls, social media help, and even your own webpage - all of which will help hold you accountable and jump-start your earnings potential.
Start your New Year’s resolution now
One of the reasons New Year’s resolutions are so popular is because you have to start them now. We’re not talking about June 26th or October 9th resolutions, after all.
So, no more excuses. Pick your goal today, and make a SMART plan for how to get there. Use these 9 tips to help keep you on track. After all, your future is waiting for you!
About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren blogs about her attempts to get out of debt at Notorious D.E.B.T. She lives in Fort Collins, CO with a houseful of pets, including two cats, a dog, and a husband. She has been a professional dogsled racer, a wildlife researcher, and a participant in the National Spelling Bee. In her (limited) spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, homebrewing, and learning to play the guitar.