What is it about January 1 that makes us believe everything will change? We’ll emerge from our NYE hangover with fireworks dust in our hair and, magically, be able to go to the gym every day, quit vaping or put money into savings every week.
Here’s the ugly truth: every year, millions of people make a new year’s resolution. And, by July, more than half of us have gone back to the comfortable, familiar, un-magical things we were doing before.
I’m one of those people. Boy, am I. Since 2006, I’ve resolved to exercise more. Sure, I said the same thing last year and failed spectacularly. But this year would be different. And so I do my little walk around the block for a few days, lift a few weights in my lounge room and make some problematic food choices, before returning to my couch by February, feeling worse than ever.
The problem is never that I haven’t actually exercised more – my six laps of the block are more than I’d exercised all year. The hard part is that, yet again, I have set a goal and failed.
In 2021, I was in the midst of feeling horrible about myself because of lockdowns and work burnout and my generalised anxiety disorder. Truly rotten. One day a little voice in my head said to me, “What if you get strong?” It wasn’t January at all, it was August or something ridiculous. I went, “Little voice, that sounds like a lot of work.” But it asked again until, secretly, I decided to try a bit. As a joke. Definitely not as a resolution.
At first, I just walked for ten minutes. I bought tiny hand weights and did the world’s smallest bicep curls. I ran for fifteen seconds. I bought slightly larger hand weights and did tricep curls. I huffed and puffed and sweated and yelled. It was hard. Weeks passed and I wasn’t buff yet, which seemed very unfair.
I didn’t do a bit more each day – some days I didn’t do anything. Some days I took a block of chocolate to bed and watched weird American cooking reels. But, on other days, I ran for thirty seconds, then a minute, then two minutes. I found beginner workout videos on youtube and followed along. I went for a longer walk. I did an extra curl.
Overall, I did more. In the grand scheme of things, I was getting strong.
Every time I worked out, I took a selfie to remind me of the extremely good effort I had made. At the beginning, I’m scowling in every single one, possibly dead. But by January, I’d started smiling. And by the next August, I had become strong enough to do one (1) pull-up on a bar in the playground. After fifteen years of trying, I’d managed to stick at it long enough to make a difference. Instead of feeling strung out about failing, I felt powerful and courageous.
What does any of this have to do with money?
Learning to run in 15-second increments – instead of trying to do a 5k on my first day – taught me that with a little persistence and tiny self-congratulations, I could do anything. Exercising more and saving money are two of the most common new year’s resolutions we make, and they have this in common: slow and steady wins the race. Literal or metaphorical.
This isn’t just a long brag about what a great athlete I am. Some time after I started “running” (moving my feet while crying) I also got an email from Up. I’d been an Up customer for a while already, mostly because of the way sales assistants always comment on how hot the neon orange card is, but also because it was slowly teaching me more about my money. Where it comes from (the hustle) and where it goes (books, chocolate, running shoes) and how much I need (depends how much chocolate is left).
This Up email was about a challenge to save $1000 in a year. It promised – swore to me – that if I put a little away every week, I would save a grand. I just had to stick at it and keep trying. It was the savings equivalent of running 15 seconds at a time.
I really wanted $1000. So, I signed up. I put away $34, and $19, and $6. I chose the week’s numbers from the options available and watched the animation tick over. Before too long, I had $100 in my Saver, which was $100 more than I’d had at the beginning. Every week, I saved a bit more and ran a bit further. Just chipping off bits of my life goals.
It’s been 62 weeks since I started running, and 35 weeks since I started the Save up 1000 Challenge, and I have two things I didn’t have when I started: the stamina to run 10 kilometres in a row, and $714. A plump little bag of cash just for me.
You’re too old and attractive for me to go all “tortoise and the hare” on you, but know this: every bit you do counts. If you miss a day, or do a little less than last time, or feel like you want to give up, that’s okay. You’re still moving forward. You can turn your new year’s resolution into a new year’s revolution (crowd cheers, fireworks explode).
You’re doing amazing. In the grand scheme of things, you’re absolutely killing it.
Tags: Save Up 1000
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