Photo by Semnoz; Wikimedia Commons

For many, it is a time of preparation: for the holidays, for a new year, and for new steps on the journey toward financial transformation. Many people are thinking about setting money goals for 2013: saving more, spending less, or starting a new type of investment.

When we do succeed at reaching a personal finance goal, success doesn’t happen dramatically, spontaneously, or because the calendar tells us that it happens to be January 1st. Instead, successful change efforts follow a long period of gestation and preparation. We think about the change under the surface of our consciousness for a while. Then we do more of the conscious mental work such as researching our options and strengthening our commitment. Eventually, we know what we have to do and find the courage to make our plans known to ourselves and to the world.

Poet Mary Oliver wrote a poem about personal transformation called “The Journey.” Here are my favorite lines from the beginning of the poem:

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting their bad advice–

though the whole house began to tremble

and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

As she suggests, you will feel the same pull to fall back into old habits that didn’t serve you well. And you will hear feedback from the world resisting your change efforts. But my wish for you is that during your period of preparation for 2013, you take the time to anticipate the temptations and obstacles that will challenge your money goals, and plan for how you will work around them. Perhaps you can use some of the ideas about motivation, persistence, and impulse control that are archived on this blog.

Best wishes for your financial change efforts in 2013!