Silver Oak Insights

Make Lasting Changes with Ease

by | Mar 1, 2024 | Newsletters

The New Year is a fresh start, an opportune time to reflect and set new dreams and goals. Gyms become busy, travel plans are made, and new diets, schedules or budgets are adopted. But if we are honest, sustainable changes are hard, as our motivations often fade in a matter of days or weeks. The truth is that self-discipline and sheer willpower are not the answer. We need new ways of making positive, lasting changes in our lives with ease.

Resonate with your "Why"

No matter what you resolve to do – eat better, spend more time with family, or save more, we’re more likely to sustain motivation if the goal comes from a spirit of self-care, rather than guilt, external pressure, or self-criticism. Think of it as a “gift” goal, not a “should” goal. For example, instead of naming the goal as “Complete my estate plan”, you can frame it as “To be financially organized so I have the peace of mind I want for myself and my loved ones”. Instead of saying “Stay under a budget”, you could say “Spend with the intention that my future self will thank me”.

We’re also more likely to achieve our goals if they align with our deeply held purpose and core values. Frame these goals as “gifts of fulfillment” reflecting whatever speaks to your heart, i.e. love, creativity, connection, or personal growth. Remembering the purpose and values behind the goal will help us tap into an immense well of energy and make the journey itself joyful and rewarding.

Start with your strengths and resources

Whatever you are looking to achieve, ask yourself: “What strengths and resources are already present in my life that could help me get there?” Start with those easiest to access, be it your community and network, your unique talent and expertise, time, money, or energy. Invite your allies and champions to brainstorm with you. You may discover more support than you are aware of and gain more confidence you need to take actions.

Set up your default mode and make it convenient

Our behavior is dramatically impacted by what is set up as the “default mode.” If the default is to put away savings automatically and spend the rest, we are more likely to achieve our savings goal. If you do not have a default system in place, create one and make it super convenient. Design your daily routines and plan of action that works for “the most exhausted version of yourself,” not “the ideal version.” For example, exercise and create a healthy meal plan first thing in the morning, so that you don’t need to decide and test your will throughout the day.

Practice self-compassion when getting stuck

When you have setbacks, don’t label yourself “lazy” or “lacking self-discipline.” Instead, ask yourself gently: what is the real reason for my inaction? It could be that you don’t truly resonate with the goal, or you are paralyzed by fears that have not been acknowledged and dealt with, or you are exhausted and need to recover and restore first. Being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure, is associated with more resilience and success than self-blame or shame.

Invite accountability

When we are held accountable to someone, i.e., trusted friends, partners, or professionals, we behave differently – we act more consistently, we overcome resistance, and we make steady progress towards our goals.

What big changes would you like to make for this year?

At Silver Oak, one of the most valuable services we provide beyond investment management and financial planning is to serve as your thinking partner and “Chief Nudging Officer.” Share with us what’s important to you, we can help you remember your “Why” and be your accountability partner in your journey of personal fulfillment.

By Linda Cao, President, MBA, CFP®, CeFT® and Alyssa Crews, Wealth Advisor, MsPFP, CFP®

Attribution: Portions of this blog article were inspired by or adapted from the book “Playing Big” by Tara Mohr.

Contact Information

10940 Wilshire Blvd.
Suite 975
Los Angeles, CA 90024