Say no to goal setting and hello to a healthier and wealthier you

Nima Abu Wardeh says we should create new habits we can sustain over the long-term

Illustration by Gary Clement

I don’t do goals. A way of life is more my thing, where ‘goals’ are an ongoing lifestyle, rather than a specific, targeted, end-point.

I picture ‘goals’ as an emotional rollercoaster: you’re high on having ‘done it’, then low because you need to do it all over again, else you risk lapsing back to your pre-goal state of less money, more debt/ less fitness, more weight – or whatever you’re aiming for. If your timeline for the mission has passed, or is far removed from your desired result, you feel rubbish; maybe you even believe you are a failure.

Financial and physical health are a common theme when it comes to all sorts of resolutions at this time of year – and guess what, they are connected.

A 2015 survey conducted by the US’s TD bank found that for 81 per cent of respondents, goals were much easier to achieve when their finances were in order. Seventy per cent stated that good financial health had a positive impact on their physical health.

Another survey - this one conducted by the Gallop polling organisation in 2016 in the US - found that 69 per cent of participants who reported they have enough money to do whatever they want, were healthy eaters, versus 57 per cent of those who strongly disagree they have enough money. Many other surveys support similar findings.

Is it because people who have the money to do as they wish have more access to healthy food, or because those without the financial security are more susceptible to stress and reaching for unhealthy treats?

We all know what poor financial health does to us. Money worries equal stress, problems sleeping and physical and mental health issues.

Whatever the reasons, wealth-care and health-care go hand in hand.


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Instead of setting a ‘goal’ - where you say, for example, you want to lose X amount of weight, or save Y amount of money, how about taking a step back and making eating healthy and being fit a way of life, along with living beneath your means and saving? You can include benchmarks and key moments to celebrate, but not where that benchmark is the desired end-point.

This encouragement to change behaviour and create life-long habits is one reason I really like Ukraine's Monobank. It offers clients who walk 10,000 steps 21 per cent in interest. Yes, you read right. If they don’t step up to this requisite minimum for three days on the trot, interest on their money plummets to 11 per cent.

Before you calculate the compound interest on whatever you could deposit with them and rush to make a transfer, this is not an exceptional rate in certain parts of the world, like Eastern Europe, or Latin America (think Argentina). Plus it applies to deposits in local currency, where inflation is invariably double-digits and the currency vulnerable.

Is it a gimmick? I say, yes. Try exchanging bank rates for inflation. The bank base rate in Ukraine is 18 per cent and inflation has averaged 10.95 per cent since 2010. This means the real return on the 21 per cent interest rate is 10.05 per cent.

Plus, there’s an inverse relationship between a country’s bank rate, inflation and the strength of its currency. If the central bank rate is 18 per cent, the value of the Ukrainian currency should fall equivalently. When you get your 21 per cent return, much, if not all, of it will be offset by the exchange back to whatever currency you use – for example US dollars – so, no gain for you or me.

Letting go of this as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme – let us consider the great use of technology to serve the country’s needs: Ukraine has the second highest death rate from coronary heart disease in the world, and 50 per cent of its men are predicted to be obese by 2030.

Yes, there are ways to cheat the system – as the founders of Monobank discovered when some clients were hitting the numbers faster than humanly possible – and they were punished by being pushed to the bank’s lowest interest rate.

Gimmick or no gimmick, I like this because someone imagined a new way of bringing together physical and financial health, and helping many on their way.

Our financial and physical health are key to a great life. Make them core to your daily way of living – and reap the rewards. Happy New Year. Happy New You.

Nima Abu Wardeh is a broadcast journalist, columnist and blogger. Share her journey on