Are Long-term Goals Shortsighted?

The good news: a new survey finds that a majority of Americans are making long-term plans – far more than are making New Year’s resolutions. The bad news? What they consider long-term.

The New York Life survey of more than 1,800 adults ages 30 or older (conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs) found that 57% of respondents are making long term plans, while only 36% are making New Year’s resolutions. However, Americans define “long-term” as just 4.4 years on average.

Regardless, more Americans report they will seek professional help when managing their finances in 2017 compared to 2012 – nearly a quarter (24%), compared with 14% in 2012, with parents among the most likely to plan to seek such financial assistance (39%).

Overall, the survey finds a strong upsurge in optimism, with:

  • 43% expecting their financial situation to improve in the coming year (versus 31% in 2011);
  • 67% planning to reduce debt (versus 57% in 2011);
  • 61% planning to save more (50% in 2011);
  • 46% believe their families will be more financially secure and better prepared for the unexpected (30% in 2011);
  • 41% believing they will be in better financial shape for retirement (24% in 2011); and
  • 35% anticipating more opportunities for career growth and advancement (compared with 22% in 2011).

How are Americans planning to stay true to their goals? Across generations, Americans believe that tracking their own progress (47%) and relying on support from their family and friends (42%) are most likely to help them keep their goals.

For the survey, a sample of 1,863 U.S. adults over the age of 30 was interviewed online.

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