There are three kinds of people in the world when it comes to setting goals for the new year. The cynics who sneer at someone else’s futile attempt at accomplishing a goal, the wide-eyed optimists who fail to keep up with goals, but set them anyway. And lastly, the pragmatists. The one who’s a little bit of both. Despite the differences, one thing’s for sure - taking care of one’s financial health has been on everyone’s agenda.
This isn’t new. The desire to have sound finances for the new year dates 4000 years back, where ancient babylonians made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed.
Not much has changed since then. In the annual practice of resolution making, finance related goals top the list amongst other hackneyed goals. In a nationally representative survey conducted by Milieu with 1209 respondents, saving more money accounted for more than 40% of Singaporean’s top New Year’s resolution.
For many, resolutions are a way of self improvement. A period to work towards a goal that promises fulfilment and happiness. While it’s only wise to ensure good finances for the new year (and every other year), it shouldn’t trump the list.
In Harvard's Grant and Glueck study which spanned over 75 years (1939 to 2014), having good relationships turned out to be the biggest predictor of an individual's overall happiness and fulfilment in life. More so than social class, IQ, or even genes.
Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. According to the study, having someone to rely on relaxes the nervous system and reduces emotional and physical pain. Lonely individuals tend to experience a dip in physical and mental health, and are more likely to die younger. Paying attention to, and nurturing relationships is a form of self-care. Perhaps quality relationships could well replace an hours session of yoga or a cup of chamomile tea. Or, it could even help strike off the second most common New Year’s resolution - getting physically fit.
As the saying goes, it’s not the quantity but the quality that matters. The quality of relationships is paramount. Working towards loving relationships is one where you find yourself being truly comfortable and vulnerable with the people around you that matter.
Although it comes as no surprise that money matters will continue to top the list of New Year resolutions for years to come, the wishful optimist in me hopes for your list to look a little different this year. We're only into the first week of 2018, it's not too late to reprioritise your list of goals, or to stop yourself from scrolling through Facebook or emails at the dinner table this evening.