Tom and Bev in Ochos Rios, Jamaica

Tom and his wife, Bev, in Ochos Rios, Jamaica

Lets face it.  We never keep our New Years resolutions.  The reason is simple: we take the path of least resistance and our lives have been shaped by little choices.  The secret to real and permanent change is making a couple of big choices that are automatic and easy.  

Choice 1 – Automatically Pay Yourself First

We are all struggling financially.  For the most part we all live paycheck to paycheck and somehow manage to survive. Small purchases such as:  Tim Hortons,  vehicle upgrades, fast food, movies, etc. all add up to be a significant amount of money every month.  

Take a portion of this money every month and automatically have it deducted from your paycheck for retirement.  This is money you do not touch.  Contact your bank or investment adviser and they will have automatic withdrawal options. Put that money into a mutual fund or some sort of investment plan.  Either have your employer transfer the money or have it come out on the day you get paid.  Start small (as little as $25) and when you get that tax return or a raise at work slowly increase your savings amount.  The goal is to get to at least 10% of your income. You will save $100,000’s over your lifetime and life will not be so stressful.

Choice 2 – Make Automatic Healthy food choices

Diets do not work long term for most people. Stop promising to diet and instead just fill your house with healthy food and get the junk out.  I know that if I have junk food in my house I will eat it.  The easiest way to avoid it is not to have it in the house.  When you go shopping make sure you are not hungry.  People always buy more unhealthy food when they are hungry.  Look at food not by quantity of food purchased but by nutrition.   People believe eating healthy is too expensive. That is mainly because we do not realize that less of healthy food is much better than more junk.  Cut back on quantity and increase the quality.   Think of processed foods and eating out as a treat.  Focus on vegetables and greens.  Throw in some protein and some whole grains and you will live longer and your life will just feel better.  Reduce the sugary and artificially flavoured drinks and replace with water and green tea. It all starts at the grocery store.  Buy healthy and be proud of your cart.

Choice 3 – Let life rules automatically get you in shape.

Stop looking at physical effort as a chore. Instead look at it as being part of an active lifestyle. It amazes me how people will make time and money for a gym membership but then dread vacuuming.  Activity is activity so make some rules like:

  1. Cleaning is healthy exercise,  
  2. Always take the stairs when you have the option and even safely run up them to increase the activity,
  3. Park further away from work or the grocery store and enjoy the walk from your car.

We get out of shape physically and financially very slowly and we can get back in shape the same way.  Just little automatic life changes will add up to big changes over time.