New Year’s Resolutions to Close the Gap Between Thinking and Doing

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Why harnessing your intentions and your attention can help you stay on track for 2022.

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Most of the decisions and actions we make in life can be boiled down to two components: intention and attention. When it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions, these are the primary drivers to achieve more.

Intention is a plan to achieve or take action. Attention, on the other hand, is the act of applying your mind to something. You can have the greatest intention, but there is a wide gap between thinking and doing.

This year, we’re raising three financial resolutions for the new year. Whatever direction your resolutions take, set aside time, take action, and turn your attention to your intentions.


If you’ve set aside dollars in a donor-advised fund, commonly called a DAF, consider resolving to distribute a portion of it this year to causes you care about. In fact, Jennifer Risher, author of “We Need to Talk: A Memoir About Wealth,” is challenging people who have DAFs to commit to granting half of their balance by autumn.

Jennifer and her husband, David, created the #HalfMyDAF challenge in 2020 as a response to the pandemic, putting up their own money in the form of matching grants. Anyone who commits to spending down half of their DAF becomes eligible for a match from #HalfMyDAF. Since May 2020, the challenge has helped move $19.2 million from DAFs to nonprofits.

Nationally, donor-advised funds hold more than $140 billion in charitable dollars that could be put to work today. Often times, people can get hung up on the idea that “there’s a right way to give,” Jennifer says.

“The key to giving is to just get started,” Jennifer says. “Then you can learn and evolve how you give.”

She recommends choosing an amount to contribute, maybe $100 or $1,000, and giving it free of stipulations. People can use that starting point to build a relationship with an organization working in an area they find interesting. Jennifer is also an advocate for “trust-based” giving. This approach is essentially about trusting the people on the ground to know how to put the money to work.

“Start with your own values,” Jennifer says. “Figure out what you care about—maybe it’s animal rights, reproductive health, climate change, racial equity, or reading in underserved communities. There are so many worthy causes and needs out there that you can’t really go wrong if you look within yourself and figure out what sings to you and touches your heart.”

Invest With Your Values

Impact investments, commonly referred to as ESG investments—short for environmental, social, and governance—can reflect your personal priorities. Once seen as a niche, this segment has the potential for explosive growth.

Matt Camrud, a partner and senior lead advisor at Brighton Jones, says that over the past decade, investors have propelled impact investing forward as a way to achieve competitive financial returns while furthering important social and environmental goals.

In fact, investors’ appetite for achieving positive impact is growing at a rapid pace. Up to $2 trillion is currently invested globally with a lens toward environmental, social, and governance issues, according to estimates by the International Finance Corp. It estimates the appetite is as large as $25 trillion, or 10% of global capital markets. There are more than 500 ESG and sustainable mutual funds and ETFs available in the U.S., according to Morningstar.

The benefit of this approach is that investors can better align their investment portfolios with their values. By working with fund managers actively engaged with companies, investors’ capital can help move the needle on important issues, Camrud says. Nevertheless, investors should be diligent to identify and avoid mutual funds that practice “greenwashing.” It’s the practice of putting an ESG label on an investment product but stopping short of actually engaging with companies on ESG issues.

A well-thought-out approach to ESG investing can support risk management, portfolio diversification, and offer real potential to generate competitive financial returns.

Lean on Your Advisor

By some measures, people give up on 80 percent of the New Year’s resolutions they set. Perhaps the bar is too high or the change is too severe. Decades of research shows that those who keep their resolutions often have an accountability structure in place to help sustain the change.

As you bring others “under the tent” to build a network of support, your advisor can be a powerful ally in your support network.

While there’s no requirement to do everything at once, your advisor can help you get into the right mindset and create a fine-tuned plan to help you reach your goals for the year. Whether you want to make time in the year ahead to explore new strategies, discuss upcoming life events, update your beneficiaries, or reevaluate your path toward retirement, your advisor can provide the right support so you can achieve your goals for the year ahead.


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