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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind – Whether your goals include better fitness or better finance, experts say the best way to set yourself up for success is to be specific and make a plan.

“Finding what’s going to drive you,” said Jen Gandolph Hawk, Studio Manager at Orange Theory Fitness Greenwood.  “Do you need a coach to push you?  Are you individually motivated?  Do you have a group of friends?  It’s just kind of finding the right fit for you first.”

For those hoping to lose weight and get in better shape in 2022, Gandolph Hawk recommends deciding on specific goals.  Those can be how many pounds you hope to lose, how many minutes you want to shave off your 5K time, or other exercise benchmarks.  Once you’ve decided on your goals, she says you should write them down and start mapping out your daily plan to reach them.

“Print out a calendar, put it on your fridge, put it on your phone, whatever you use to organize your life, and just set a goal each day,” she said.  “And some of those days need to be rest days, you can’t go every day.  Your body needs to recover and regroup and little bit.”

Gandolph Hawk also recommends sharing your goals with others who will help keep you accountable.

“You don’t necessarily have to have personal trainers and gyms, just accountability partners or Facebook groups,” she said.  “Maybe find a buddy somewhere that you’re going to text back and forth what your walk was for the day, or how many stairs you climbed.”

For those hoping to get in better financial shape in 2022, Forum Credit Union COO Andy Mattingly says the first step should be similar to those focusing on fitness.  Rather than making a general statement like “spend less money,” he says you should decide on specific, realistic goals and write them down.

“That’s one of the most important things that I think is the problem with people is that they set resolutions,” Mattingly said.  “They don’t really tie it to something that they can measure and that they can check off.”

If, for example, you decide you want to spend $25 fewer dollars a week, Mattingly says it’s a good idea to focus on habits.

“So you may say every time I go to the grocery store, I’m going to take at least five coupons,” Mattingly said.  “Maybe you always go to the grocery store using your planned meal list.  That’s a great way to save money because you don’t buy extra things that you’re just going to throw away.”

Mattingly says daily routines can be examined for ways to cut back on spending.

“Maybe you’re somebody who pampers yourself every day with that gourmet cup of coffee on the way to work” he said.  “You don’t have to cut it completely out, but maybe your resolution is I’m only going to that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but Tuesday and Thursday I’m going to drink the coffee at work.”

Mattingly also suggests waiting 24 hours before making any unplanned purchase over $100.  Taking a day to think it over can often discourage impulse buying.  

For those looking to eliminate debt, Mattingly recommends setting monthly goals.

“This year, I’m going to start paying an extra 100 dollars each month to my credit card, and I’m also not going to put any more debt on it,” he said.  “If it’s just 50 extra dollars to your credit card and you’re like wow, I can do this, maybe by June you make it 100 dollars.”

Another financial goal could be reaching 10% of your income going to your 401K or other retirement savings.  Mattingly says that can also be achieved in smaller steps.

“So maybe this year, to get there you say every quarter I’m going to increase it by one percent,” he said.

In general, most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by mid-January, so both experts say you shouldn’t let small failures throw you off from your overall mission.  Don’t forget to celebrate small victories along the way.  And If you don’t quite reach your long term goal in 2022, you can still build on any progress you’ve made toward it in 2023.