Start New, Fresh, and Wonderful

It's 2020. A new year. A new start.

According to Chinese astrology, this is the Year of the Rat. The Rat, considered the first sign in the Chinese zodiac, represents renewal, new beginnings, and new perspectives. I'm taking this opportunity to start new, fresh, and wonderful. I want to encourage you to do the same.

How? I know sometimes it's difficult because we get stuck. We're busy and overwhelmed. Unsure and fearful. And, sometimes, we look backwards. We are regretful. These kinds of personal judgements and assessments can be roadblocks to moving forward.


To start new. To be better. To take that next step—it requires you to get out of your comfort zone. Not always an easy thing to do. Our comfort zone is comfortable. It's easy. It's enjoyable and satisfying. It's an emotional cocoon. Who wouldn't want to live in their comfort zone?

However, if you want to do something differently, or be a bit better, or create a new comfort zone, you'll have to work and think differently.

Create a New Comfort Zone

You'll need to recognize that moving out of your comfort zone isn't a straight line. Get comfortable with twists and turns. Ups and downs. Most importantly, start implementing new behaviors and habits.

Data indicate that process is key. (Here is a video about developing a growth mindset.) You can implement strategies and behaviors that will help you move forward and out of your comfort zone. This is true in all aspects of your life—including your finances.

Here are some quick strategies that you can implement to get moving out of your financial comfort zone and into a new financial space.

5 Quick Strategies
  1. Ask Yourself: What Do I Need to Move Forward? Frequently, you need some information and some guidance. For example, if you want to save more, you'll need to know your income, your expenses, and your current savings rate (including your retirement accounts). Maybe follow this up with some Google searches on strategies for saving. Then you might want to reach out to a Financial Advisor or a Certified Financial Planner® for more help.
  2. Name Your One Issue. Prioritize! What's your biggest priority? Saving for retirement? Saving for a trip? Purchasing or updating a home? Establishing an emergency savings account? My suggestion: pick low-hanging fruit. Pick one thing only. And work at it consistently.
  3. Identify Your Next Step. And Then your Next Step. Determine which behavior needs to change. Create new habits. And then... work at it consistently. And keep working at it. This is your 2020 intention. Not your "tomorrow intention". Whenever possible, systematize your behaviors. This will help you with consistency. One example: automate your savings with automatic transfers or by splitting your deposits between accounts.
  4. Be Prepared for the Yucky! I can't guarantee very much in life. However, I can guarantee that the unexpected will appear. Or you'll reach a point when you personally feel yucky and think what you're doing is worthless—that your strategy isn't working. Just keep going. Don't beat yourself up. This is why automation and systems are important. For example, if you have increased the amount you contribute to your investment account, and then the stock market drops, your best strategy probably is to keep these investments. You did your homework. You have a diversified portfolio. You know the stock market will eventually turn around. Don't fall into the trap of second-guessing—stick to your new habits.
  5. Celebrate Your Wins! We frequently find time to have a negative conversation with ourselves. But that's not keeping things in perspective. Instead, I want to encourage you to celebrate your wins. Pat yourself on your back. Give yourself credit for getting out of your comfort zone. Did you want to increase your savings? Did you want to open an investment account and fund it monthly? Well, if these are your intentions for 2020, then every time you pay yourself or transfer funds to your investment account, celebrate. You are accomplishing your mission.

To help you move out of your comfort zone and get over that brick wall, I want to encourage you to develop a few mindsets that will help you in the journey.

  • Push against an open door. Don't make things too difficult. If a door is never going to open, don't waste your energy banging on it. Find another way. Pick the low-hanging fruit. Be strategic.
  • Don’t be easily intimidated by yourself. Don't let negative self-talk get in your way. Systematize your behaviors to take the pressure off yourself.
  • Live in the No Judgement Zone (NJZ). Give yourself a break. Perfection is not the goal. Change is.
  • Ask for help—don't wait until you're desperate. What do I hear I most frequently hear from new clients? “I wish I had talked to you years ago.” Don't wait. I know you can be successful. All you need is commitment and a little change in behavior.

I'm with you all the way. See you on the journey!

About the Author

Diane Manuel is a former UWM advisor. She worked closely with René for 5+ years, helping grow the Smart Women/Savvy Money Club. In 2021, Diane joined Adasina Social Capital as Director, Foundation & Client Relationships, pursuing her passion of creating investment strategies that support racial and social justice. Diane has been active in service and philanthropy most of her life, from her first job at the Watts–Willowbrook Boys’ & Girls’ Club to current roles with the Carter Center Philanthropy Council and the Women’s Foundation of California. Diane holds a BA from USC and a PhD in Psychology and MBA from Claremont Graduate University. She has authored articles in Investopedia, MarketWatch, and Financial Planning Magazine on finance, women, and philanthropy. An LA native, she enjoys 5Ks, the beach, wine tasting, photography, and walking with friends.