Did you know that the first ever New Year’s resolutions were made centuries ago in Mesopotamia by the ancient Babylonians? Babylonians promised their gods that they would return borrowed plows and pay their debts at the start of the year.
While today’s resolutions seem to be a long way off from their quaint beginnings and most of us don’t make them to get on the good side of the gods, we still make resolutions to improve our lives.
For every resolution hater out there that says many fail to stick to their resolutions after just a few weeks, there is someone who believes in the power of a promise. It has been said that those who make resolutions are a lot more likely to reach their goals compared to those who don’t. So before you make the chase of Goose Island Backyard Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout your New Year’s resolution, how about something more constructive for the longer term? See what BlackRock folks are trying to do better—small and big, in and out of investments—in the new year.
Karen Schenone, CFA, iShares Fixed Income Product Strategist
Keep my inbox more organized
With over 10,000 emails in my inbox, I am going to start using rules and folders to stay on top of my messages. It takes time to set up but will for sure lead to a more productive year. I will also schedule time for periodic inbox cleanups.
Put cash to work
Letting cash build up and sit in bank deposits or money market funds might not be the best strategy depending on your goals. You might be missing out on interest that could accrue from bonds and not keep pace with the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) interest rate hikes. Consider short-term bond exchange traded funds (ETFs) for the core of your portfolio.
Matthew Tucker, CFA, Head of iShares Americas Fixed Income Strategy
Swim, bike, run
Complete another triathlon. I haven’t run a race in the past few years, citing the usual excuses of having too little time, lacking enough motivation, being too old, etc. This year is about getting back in shape and shaking off the rust, and the extra pounds.
Stick to the long-term plan
2018 is likely to see a number of market disruptions, but don’t panic! Possible catalysts include continued Fed rate hikes, the flattening of the yield curve, the potential resurfacing of inflation, a pickup in equity volatility, and geopolitical events. Don’t be distracted by the latest news and make rushed portfolio changes. Know your long-term portfolio plan and stick to it.
Sara Shores, CFA, Head of Strategy for BlackRock’s Factor-Based Investments
Simplify and streamline my life
We all end up with an accumulation of possessions and responsibilities that individually may make sense but in aggregate are unmanageable. Prime example: I have four different music streaming services, and a very expensive monthly cable bill for 200 channels I never watch. I want to change that.
Home in on costs
Consider replacing the complicated and expensive (such as an active growth mutual fund that’s delivered index-like returns for the last 10 years) with more transparent, consistent and cost effective solutions (like a smart beta momentum ETF). Learn more about the differences between ETFs and mutual funds.
Martin Small, Head of U.S. iShares at BlackRock
Learn to play a stunning acoustic guitar finger-style arrangement of “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes.
Prepare for volatility
Christopher Dhanraj, Head of ETF Investment Strategy
Strike a balance
Stay balanced with a meaningful focus across all key aspects of life: work, family and health, and learning. For investing, the same approach applies: Consider thoughtfully allocating your portfolios across asset classes, regions, sectors and factors.
Patrick Nolan, CFA, Portfolio Strategist, BlackRock Portfolio Solutions
Stay humble and accept I don’t have all the answers. I want to listen and learn more, and talk less—especially with my wife and my teenage daughters.
Seek out opinions different than your own
When I build a portfolio, I often learn a lot about the strength of my positions listening to someone with an opposing view. Make sure your portfolio contains enough positions that will work when your thesis is proven incorrect, however temporarily. This isn’t as much about returns as keeping a disciplined mind and not giving into nervousness and making rash moves during the inevitable moments when your portfolio looks ugly.
Danielle Papandrea, Head of BlackRock’s Affinity Group
Live by design, not by default
Be intentional and purposeful of where I spend my time, and also know when to say “no” or “not now.”
The difference you make in clients’ lives
Most financial advisors have too much going on at once. Be more productive by doing one thing at a time. Stop interrupting and try to listen to each other. It’s a good time to remind yourself the difference you make in clients’ lives, which was why you went into the advisory business to begin with.
Paul Mele, Head of Participant Engagement for BlackRock’s Defined Contribution Group
Give more effectively
I would like to take a new approach to my charitable giving. Like many people, I give to organizations based on personal relationships, interests and, frequently, in response to events. However, I haven’t really taken the time to evaluate what impact my contributions are having—and how I could potentially make a bigger difference in my community and the causes I care about by giving more effectively.
Financial first aid kit
It’s hard to look back on 2017 without reflecting on all of the people around the country (and the world) who have been impacted by a natural disaster. So I’m in the process of creating a “financial first aid kit” with all of my critical information in one secure place. This will include personal identification (passport/driver’s license), financial and legal documents, medical information, and key contact information. If you haven’t done this yet, the FEMA website has a handy guide to help you get started.
Anne Ackerley, Head of BlackRock’s U.S. & Canada Defined Contribution Group
Be more present
There’s no question that technology has improved my life, but it is also distracting. In fact, it’s driven our attention spans down to just eight seconds, which is shorter than a goldfish’s. So this year, I’m resolved to be more present. I’m going to make an effort to put away my phone during the day—whether I’m in a meeting or just walking down the street—I’m going to be more attentive to the people I’m with and the experiences I’m having.
Stretch your 401(k) contribution
And, speaking of a different kind of present, for those of you saving for retirement, I suggest you give yourself a gift this New Year by checking in on your savings. Can you stretch your 401(k) plan contribution this year? Even saving just 1% more can help in the long run.
Alesia Hsiao is the Global Editor for The Blog.