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  • Writer's pictureCarrie B. VanWinkle, CFP®

Four Ingredients for Powerful Change in Your Money Life in the New Year

The new year offers us a burst of energy for starting fresh and recommitting to the changes we’d like to see in our lives. In the Mindful Money Transformation work I do to help clients achieve their money goals, I’ve found that there are four important ingredients that work together to help create powerful change.

#1 - OUR WHYs

We start by identifying the goal (the WHAT), but then quickly dive into the WHY. There’s little energy in the “what” until it’s accomplished—the energy to fire our actions is in the “why.” If the goal is to pay off credit card debt, the why might be “to feel free from the stress of the debt hanging over me.” If the goal is to contribute the maximum amount into their IRA for the year, the why might be “to know that I am sending love to and caring for my elder self by what I do this year.


Many of our goals are long term and that's OK, but it can be overwhelming and hard to maintain momentum toward goals that are still out of reach. So, looking at the year by seasons can be a powerful lens that really focuses your energy. Using the energy of your WHY, look at the next three months (set a specific target date) and set yourself an achievable goal. Shifting to this seasonal focus can really help you keep the momentum.

Let’s look at an example.

I have a Mindful Money client who has a long term goal of building her wealth so that her business is not her primary source of income. She loves her business, but doesn’t want to feel that she is forever on a hamster wheel of having to generate revenues from it. This goal of financial freedom becomes especially important for clients moving into their 40s and 50s; this is the time to be intentional about creating the choices and independence you desire for your later decades.

This is a big goal, one that usually involves carefully reducing current expenses and increasing savings and investments. The numbers involved can be large and it can take anywhere from five to twenty years to get there. So, it’s especially crucial to break this down into a year-long goal, and then look at what can be done in the immediate quarter. This helps to keep her focused, to learn from experience and adapt her short-term strategies, and to feel like she’s truly moving toward that longer term goal.


Another key step in creating real change in your money life is getting to what is essential by simplifying and eliminating. I’ve found that my energy and busy-ness in life—over-extending my commitments, even for a great reason—can mean that it’s challenging for me to make strides on my money goals. Like many of us, I find it easy to put my money practices and goals on the back burner, and then look up a few months later only to realize I’m not at all where I want to be in my money life. Check out the book Essentialism, by Greg McKeown; it really helped me understand how my brain works and how my energy is affected by shifting my life to what is essential.


Intentionally surrounding yourself with support that will help you keep your momentum, staying connected to your WHYs, and re-connecting and re-focusing in the day to day are all incredibly helpful for truly making change. Turning regularly to friends and partners for check-ins and guidance, reading books that foster new ways of thinking and being, and listening to audio books and podcasts that explore our relationships to money are all real-life ways to keep yourself on track.

Now you’re ready to give this a try in setting your own money goals! Take out a piece of paper, set aside a few minutes for real reflection, and go through these four steps:

1. WHAT is your money goal? WHY does it matter to you? What change will it bring?

2. What do you want to accomplish by …. (90 days from now)? How will you feel when you accomplish this goal?

3. What are three things you can eliminate or simplify in your life to support you in staying focused on your 90-day goal?

4. Identify and commit to three ways you will deepen your intention and bring outside support to help you accomplish your 90-day goals and foster persistence toward your longer-term goals.

Now post this plan somewhere that you will see it everyday or come back to it once a week to stay aligned and focused on your goal.


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