It's the beginning of a new year.......heck, it's the beginning of a new decade! If you have resolved to change some things in your life, you are not alone. According to wikipedia, New Year's resolutions go way, way back, beginning when Babylonians made promises to the Gods at the start of each year to return borrowed objects and repay their debts!
Top New Year's resolutions include:
Strive to be more environmentally responsible. Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits. Improve mental well-being: think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life.
A study found that those who made resolutions at the New Year were more likely to succeed than those who vowed to change at other times of the year! Still, way more than half of those resolutions fail. So what habits can we put in place to achieve the possibilties we've envisioned?
Start small. Using the example of meditation, it is better to plan to meditate 5 minutes a day than to expect to sit still for 30 minutes. If you set unrealistic goals, you are likely to fail because they are too big. Better to start small, with something achievable.
And tie that new habit you are creating to an existing habit, or cue. "Habit stacking" allows you to use one of your existing habits as a trigger that helps you remember to build the new habit. Back to the meditation example, perhaps you tie your 5 minute sit to your habit of making coffee, timing the meditation for after you turn on your coffee maker, but before you drink your coffee and check your email!
Speaking of "changes", I would be remiss if I didn't mention the changes in the recent tax legislation passed by Congress, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (the SECURE Act). Among other provisions, the SECURE Act:
- has good news for savers, by removing the age 70.5 Traditional IRA contribution restriction;
- has good news for retirees, by extending the beginning age of required minimum distributions from retirement accounts to age 72 from 70.5
- has bad news for inheritors, by removing the stretch provisions that enabled a non-spouse IRA inheritor to stretch out RMDs from the account over their own life expectancy. Under the new law, most beneficiaries have up to 10 years to distribute the full account.