If you don’t want to give up after about three months which is on average how long we last on NY resolutions, you need to follow these simple steps but importantly it’s the last one that makes all the difference.  What’s also different about this set of steps, I have the research backed up by American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) who studied 17,000 people for their study.

1. Set a goal – 10% probability

Is it to buy your first property for example? What will make the most positive impact to you and your family? Once you have decided on a goal, the first thing you need to do is write it down and take a picture. So if for an example, buying your first home, take a picture of a house or cut it out of a magazine, and then put somewhere you can see it everyday, such as on the fridge or where you get dressed every morning.

2. Take action – 25% probability

You need a plan, so you can do your own or seek out expertise like an adviser, coach, property expert for example.  Do the research necessary and get yourself prepared.  Work out how much you will need to reach this goal. Make it feel real, not just a dream or a hope.

3. Have a deadline – 40% probability

Once you have worked out how much you need, you need to work when you want this. Don’t just say, oh, it’s going to be sometime in the future, or 5 years from now. Be specific, as there is some psychology behind it, put down an exact date. If it’s 10 years from now for example, put down 1st of January, 2034, or on your birthday, whatever it is, put a specific date.

4. Have a Step-by-Step Plan – 50% probability

That’s where advisors and coaches can help as this is their bread and butter. As setting goals is only one part of the plan, your need to work how you are going to reach that, is it saving a certain amount every month, and also how do you invest the funds until you get there.

5. Commit to someone – 65% probability

Telling a friend or relative of your goal as well as your plan to reach it, just makes it more real. As humans we all have flaws and life gets busy and if it is a goal that no one knows about, it can just as easily slip to the bottom of the ‘too hard basket’ and be forgotten.  Telling someone will just add that extra bit of responsibility to reaching that goal, as even if it helps with a gentle reminder each time you see that person whether they ask or not. Guilt can be a terrific motivator sometimes and in life we may just need nudging every now and again, to help us reach our goals and to simply not forget about them.

6. Be accountable – 95% probability

Telling a friend or relative of your goal is a good start but as you can see from the significant difference between increasing the probability of success from 65% to 95%, it’s more important that you are held accountable to ensure you reach your goal. That means setting up a regular timeframe whether monthly, 6 monthly or yearly depending on the goal, and continually monitor how you are tracking with your goal journey.

You need someone, preferably a coach but can be a friend or loved one, I call it your ‘financial gym buddy’. If you have to go get up early at six o’clock on a Sunday morning and it’s cold and miserable, it’s so easy to just roll over and go back to sleep. But if you know there’s someone there waiting for you, keeping you accountable, keeping you to a timetable, you’ll make the effort, get up and just do it.

People like Novak Djokovic being the number one tennis player pays for professional coaches. They won’t make him any more talented, but they can set out a plan to help him reach the next grand slam for example, a daily routine and then make sure he keeps to it and he stays accountable. I am sure we all have examples in our life where someone has kept us accountable and helped us reach our goal, so makes sense, this research just confirms it.


Best of luck with your own new year resolution, and I have fingers crossed 2024 is your year. On a side note, 2024 is the Chinese Year of the Dragon and is synonymous with good luck so every bit helps!


Article by Marc Bineham – Money coach, speaker and award-winning author of The Money Sandwich