By C.R. Manske, CFP® of Manske Wealth Management
The holiday season is an interesting time to think about finances for two reasons: first, it’s typically a month of extra expenses and unplanned purchases; and second, the holidays mark the end of a year which inspires thoughts about goals and future expectations. These two things have a common theme in that they are both just one half of a complete action. The extra spending is the second half of a budget plan, and the goal setting for next year is the first half of a resolution. It’s like buying a holiday latte with the peppermint flavor because making the purchase is only one half of the deal. The other half is actually following through on the plan to drink it all and enjoy it to the fullest. At the corner coffee store, people trade their money to get their delicious holiday drink and then they take that beverage with them on the road, maybe to work, and…
they throw a lot of it in the garbage.
Coffee drinkers everywhere can picture this because each time they get a cup, they might spill some, they could forget it in their car, perhaps they decide an hour later that it’s cold, or they just toss it to get a fresh cup at a different venue. But none of them would ever buy their holiday coffee, put in their individual fixings, smell it, smile, and then pour a third of it into the trash.
And yet, in real life almost everybody does just that. The holidays are a unique time when we can see the abundance of “half way commitment.” When Mary sets her monthly budget, that’s the first half of something, and she gets to determine in December how wasteful the second half of the action will become. When John makes his goals for next year, he gets to shape, as the months go by, the results of his good intentions. We all know what great first halves look like and we know how easy it is to not live up to them. The thread that binds the two halves for John and Mary is simply how badly do they want it.
What makes the difference between someone who achieves what they set out to accomplish and someone who settles for something else? How do we reconcile that people certainly understand the power of the phrase, “You get out what you put in,” but all too often they won’t put in what’s required to go the full distance? That outsized, January credit card bill is simply a case of forgetting how important it is to back up your intentions with the strong desire to achieve them. The phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way” exists because without the will to do it, people won’t go to the gym regularly, they won’t organize their day so urgencies at home don’t drown out the importance of being present at work, and they won’t say no to purchases they know they didn’t include in their budget. They don’t want it badly enough to do the hard right over the easier wrong.
To approach this differently in the future, one could ask the following questions:
- Do I want it enough?
- Do I want it badly enough to do what’s required, even if I don’t feel like it when the going gets tough?
- What are the results that will come from having the discipline to follow through?
- How badly do I want those results?
Here’s a final thought on how to avoid “Holiday Half-Way Syndrome” coupled with warm holiday wishes: “Don’t let what you want right this minute keep you from what you really want.”
Christopher R. Manske, CFP® is owner and operator of Manske Wealth Management. His firm offers investment advice that focuses on monthly client communication. The firm’s dedication to keeping clients and other advisors informed differentiates the team from the rest of Wall Street. In an industry in which clients feel a lack of regular contact from their advisory team, Manske Wealth Management lives up to its slogan: “Every client, every month.” Learn more at Manske Wealth.