2024 January Update
Welcome back! It’s a brand new year, but remember this: Time is a construct.
The truth is, you can start and end your year whenever you want.
There are many “new year” points to celebrate throughout the next 12 months. One of our favourites is the Lunar New Year, celebrated throughout Asia and coming up on February 10th. There are at least twenty-six more, and you can read about them right here. Your personal new year might occur around your birthday, your wedding anniversary, or another date that feels right to you.
You’ve likely heard and read all about the loss of momentum when it comes to new year’s resolutions, which can make the whole thing seem daunting.
However, there’s some great behavioural science research on the “fresh start effect” – something you can use to move ahead in your own life… and in your finances.
Fresh starts create a psychological reset that often leads to a renewed sense of optimism and self-efficacy, boosting motivation and commitment to personal goals. It’s a lot easier to initiate and maintain positive behaviour change when we’re feeling that motivation and commitment. Katy Milkman’s Book How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You are to Where You Want to Be speaks to this phenomenon and how to make the best use of it.
Here at Spring, we use the time period between the January 1st new year and the Lunar New Year to assess, plan, and prepare. The rush and stress of the holiday season often doesn’t allow for the kind of reflection that makes effective planning possible, which is one of the reasons we think that traditional new year’s resolutions tend to fail.
If you’ve been thinking the start of the year has gotten away from you, let us reassure you that you can start right now. Here’s what we recommend:
- Set real time aside for reflection, whether alone or with a partner in life, business, or other aspects that are important for you. During our annual retreat, we reflect for half a day on what we thought we wanted at the beginning of last year, how that changed with new information, what we achieved, and what we learned. Then we write it down.
- Take a break. Let your brain process this for a bit.
- Choose a significant block of time to think about the next chunk of time. It doesn’t have to be a year. It could be a month. It could be 5 years. Think about the foundation you’re coming from with your reflection on the past year and about how that impacts how you’re thinking ahead. What do you want and, really importantly, why do you want it? The “why” part is a big deal. It’s far too easy for us to take someone else’s idea of a good time and choose that one. But someone else’s idea of a good time isn’t motivating – only your idea of a good time is motivating. Why do you want it? What will achieving this do for you? How will you feel? What will you know? WRITE IT DOWN.
- Next, break down whatever chunk of time you’ve chosen into manageable bite-sized pieces, whether a month, six months, a year, or several years. What can you actually do in that period of time? Knowing that in a given week, you have maybe 2-3 hours to commit to your goals (or more or less, which only you know), when might you actually be able to apply yourself to this? How does that realistic approach change your view of your plans?
- Once you’ve got the above sorted, put it in your calendar. We know most people hate calendars and the reminders that come with them. This is likely because they’re a way of holding us accountable. If we don’t write things down, then maybe it won’t be our fault if things don’t happen. But if you are truly committed to creating change in your life, you’ll also commit yourself in real time.
- Schedule reviews. If you’re doing something on a weekly basis, make sure you’ve got a check-in, whether with yourself or someone who will be really good at holding space for you. Spend real time assessing whether your goals were reasonable… or far too constricting. It’s not only okay to adjust your goals once you’ve experienced the reality of working towards them, it’s vital. Goals that are encased in cement are really hard to achieve. The ones that ebb, flow, and adapt as you learn? Those are the ones that win.
- Reward yourself. We all respond more positively to rewards than to punishment (carrots not sticks!). Give yourself frequent, regular rewards. Long-term goals are boring, and our brains are structured to really enjoy short-term gratification. Give yourself some. Every time you work towards a goal, you’re achieving it. Don’t short yourself. The reward should come for doing the work, while you’re doing it, not at the end.
- Restart, whenever you get a chance. All those different “new years” are available to you, in addition to the ones that you have created through living your life. At Spring, we restart every quarter. We review, reset, and reframe. We learn, and that’s always the biggest win.
What are you working towards in 2024, the Year of the Dragon? What will you learn? What will you build? How will you have a really, really good time?
At Spring, we believe financial planning is about building the best possible life -for you – based on what you think that might look like. That’s why each engagement with each of you is unique… and custom-built. We know that the money and the taxes are generally boring for most people. They’re abstract concepts that often seem to be wrapped up in someone else’s idea about what is right or even morally correct. We don’t think that there’s one right way for all people. We do think that there is one life you’re living, and we want it to be the best one for you, supported by great financial decisions.
That’s what we mean when we say “your life, well spent”. Let’s make 2024 exactly that.
Your Spring Planning Team
Our annual strategic planning retreat will be taking place between Wednesday January 24 and Friday January 26. It’s so important that we pay attention to keeping Spring Planning sustainable and innovative, so that we can ensure we are here for YOU over the long term. We dedicate this time every year (and ½ a day every quarter) to pay attention to how far we’ve come, where we are going, and how we can adjust our plans to meet with the realities of life. It’s just like the work we do with you!
“Free” Fridays remain booked permanently in our calendars. These days are free to us at Spring because they are our opportunity to work on becoming better planners, whether through collaboration and discussion, education, research, or even a little down time. It’s been a regular practice since the summer of 2017, and we will continue to set aside the time to become better versions of ourselves every week. Even 1% better is solidly worth it, because we know that will be reflected in the work we do for you.
Spring in the News:
Julia is a founding member of the Financial Planning Association of Canada and has served as Vice President since its inception in 2019. Julia officially became President of this growing organization this month, with the support of Executive Director Joanna Schultz and an outstanding board of directors. She discusses the new position with Leo Almazora of Wealth Professional magazine, and what her plans are to achieve during her term. Read the full article here.
Some people are making a costly mistake in their Tax-Free Savings accounts. Julia discusses with Rob Carrick of The Globe & Mail how to best to avoid penalties on your TFSA contributions. Discover how you can avoid this error here.
Please check out our media page here for videos, podcasts, interviews and more.
Planning News Digest:
- What tax measures to expect in 2024 New tax measures, and changes to existing ones, will begin affecting Canadians in 2024. But tax experts say the effects on most individuals are likely to be minor, unless they’re high-income earners. Read the full article here.
- Short Term Rentals are selling for way below asking price With the recent changes to BC’s legislation on short term rentals, some owners are making the decision to sell these investment properties for below market value in an attempt to avoid the property becoming a liability. The full article is available here.
- Keeping the Founder’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive Once the family business is established and successful, what further motivates the founders? And what motivates their children as they become involved in the business? Is the entrepreneurial spirit itself something worth transmitting, and if so, how? Read the full article here.
Feature from the Archives:
Money, Values, and Family Business – Julia had a great chat with Purdeep Sangha, discussing money, values, and family business. During the discussion they examined how demographic shifts resulted in thoughts about how to move to the next phase and how the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift.
Never miss an update from Spring by signing up for our monthly newsletter here.