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This article is originally from 300Hours.com. You can read the full article here.

The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.

The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.

In the Medieval era, knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.

And today, we have our New Year's Resolutions. But how great are we at keeping them?

A 2007 study by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning.

So what is going wrong? Here's 7 tips from us to make sure you maximize your chances at meeting your CFA (or any other) New Year's resolution.


#1- Be specific
This is the most important tip of all, so it goes first and foremost. Don't say 'I resolve to pass the CFA exam this year', say 'I resolve to cover X chapters every week and Y practice exams before exam day'. Set a goal that is objective, fully measurable and dependent on your hard work and commitment.

#2 - Keep it simple
If you can, just focus on one resolution. Identify what is the most important thing that you should achieve this year and zero in on that. Boil that down to one sentence, and this will be your guiding mantra for the rest of the year.

#3 - Make a plan and write it down
Once you've decided what your resolution is, spend 10-15 minutes with a notepad and outline a plan of action. This is obviously key to properly achieving your goal - can't succeed if you don't have a plan. But too many people every year make resolutions and don't even think about any sort of plan to achieve them.

#4 - Start small
Create small goals for yourself and distribute them across time. If you're planning to cover the CFA syllabus in 3 months, you should aim to cover 1/12 of the syllabus every week. Plan out each weekly segment and focus on that.

#5 - Make it attainable
If I started the year saying that I wanted to end the year beating Roger Federer at tennis, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do a thing about it. Why? Because it's just too damn unattainable. Know what your realistic limits are and plan within them. In addition to your minimum required goal, set a stretch goal (a goal in which it would be awesome to hit, but not your minimum required) to help inspire you to greater heights.

#6 - Tell people
You're 10% more likely to achieve any goal you set for yourself if you share your targets and plans with other people such as friends or family. Why? Two reasons:

  • Social support. Your friends and family will understand and help when your resolutions mean you have to make different decisions in your normal social life. In a CFA example, this might mean missing a dinner, staying in weekends, or delegating some chores to others temporarily.
  • An accountable promise. If you've told a whole buch of people you're taking the CFA and you have a plan to maximize your pass rate, you're much more likely to stick to it as you wouldn't want to be seen going back on your words. By telling people, you make yourself accountable for it, and that will drive you on afterward.

#7 - Think positive
A task such as planning to face the CFA exam is a fairly large undertaking. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking - be encouraging to yourself and your progress. Focus on what you'll be getting with the CFA charter. Don't let the exam defeat you - if you don’t feel like you’re accomplishing enough, you get a defeated attitude. At this point, instead of moping, just shut out everything else, set a study goal for the next 2 hours or so and hit that goal. Nothing beats a lost and/or defeated attitude with some good, hard honest work.

What resolutions are you making for 2013? Practice tip #6 and share them with us in the comments below!

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Comments (8)

  • AlphaMentality's picture

    It would be nice to know which test to study for instead of having to wait till 1/22. With that said, best of luck and congrats to all of those taking the journey with me.

  • In reply to AlphaMentality
    PTS's picture

    VinnyC:
    It would be nice to know which test to study for instead of having to wait till 1/22. With that said, best of luck and congrats to all of those taking the journey with me.

    There's no possible way you remember everything from the first 22 days of January by the time June rolls around.

  • In reply to PTS
    oreos's picture

    PTS:
    VinnyC:
    It would be nice to know which test to study for instead of having to wait till 1/22. With that said, best of luck and congrats to all of those taking the journey with me.

    There's no possible way you remember everything from the first 22 days of January by the time June rolls around.


    the beginning of CFA prep for myself was note making / taking which is generally time consuming and needs time / diligence to be valuable. notes dont deteriorate like your memory.... that said, for L2 i didn't start 'til i had my results.

    "After you work on Wall Street it's a choice, would you rather work at McDonalds or on the sell-side? I would choose McDonalds over the sell-side." - David Tepper

  • In reply to PTS
    imallcash's picture

    PTS:
    VinnyC:
    It would be nice to know which test to study for instead of having to wait till 1/22. With that said, best of luck and congrats to all of those taking the journey with me.

    There's no possible way you remember everything from the first 22 days of January by the time June rolls around.

    I do agree that you can't remember what you studied with such a gap, however, the volume is so high that I found a read-through, front to back, before diving into trying to master the material was very helpful. So to what Vinny was saying, before you can do that "overview", you need to know what you're studying.

    Vinny a lot of material from Level I is the foundation for a lot of the Level II material, so I would recommend you re-read the Level I notes during your waiting period. It will help you either way. And best of luck for the 22nd.

    It's all manipulated with junk bonds. You can't win.

  • Secret_Cinema's picture

    Registered for Level 1 in June, will go through 1 study session / week with Schweser, leaves me with time for review before the exam. Dont think ill be able to do any more working full time.

  • In reply to imallcash
    PTS's picture

    imallcash:
    PTS:
    VinnyC:
    It would be nice to know which test to study for instead of having to wait till 1/22. With that said, best of luck and congrats to all of those taking the journey with me.

    There's no possible way you remember everything from the first 22 days of January by the time June rolls around.

    I do agree that you can't remember what you studied with such a gap, however, the volume is so high that I found a read-through, front to back, before diving into trying to master the material was very helpful. So to what Vinny was saying, before you can do that "overview", you need to know what you're studying.

    Vinny a lot of material from Level I is the foundation for a lot of the Level II material, so I would recommend you re-read the Level I notes during your waiting period. It will help you either way. And best of luck for the 22nd.

    I had a very different approach to studying.

    Day 1: sat down in the morning and took half a pre-test (the morning session), figured out which topics i scored the worst on. spent the afternoon doing nothing but studying the worst 2 topics.

    Day 2: took the second half of that exam in the morning. repeat studying the worst 2 topics this time around

    Day 3: repeat etc seeing constant improvement

    Day 4: skim over the rest of the stuff I havent already gotten to

    Day 5 & 6: repeat the half practice test thing. (get some sleep day 6)

    Day 7: Test Day

    Passed with all >70% besides ethics was 50-70 (but who cares).

  • In reply to imallcash
    AlphaMentality's picture

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