Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Using Habit or Routine to Succeed

For me, change can be hard.   One of my favorite mind tricks is to make the change to habit or routine, which makes change a lot easier.  Here are some examples that have worked for me
  • Saving.  In my thirties, I started paying myself first by making the first payment of every month to my own savings account.  At some point, I automated the process by having the amount transferred electronically from my checking to savings account every month.
  • Spending.  In my twenties, I decided to start paying by cash to manage my monthly spending.  That way I could not over spend monthly budget.  Once I ran out of money, the spending stopped :-)   Over time I became accustomed to only spending a certain amount each month.
  • Diet.  This example is not financial, but I thought is was worth sharing.  Recently, I converted to a strict diet for personal health reasons.   The diet is nearly vegan (only allows non fat milk and egg whites), no added oil,  and no nuts or seeds.  My solution is to create about 15 regular menu items that I like and always have a few of them available in the house.  That way I don't have to think about what to eat when I'm hungry.  I just choose one of the regulars and it keeps me from being tempted to go off the diet.  For reference, I've been doing the diet for a month and making the meals routine has helped. 
  • When a task becomes habit or routine, little thinking or resistance is involved, which can make the task automatic.

    For more on The Practice of Personal Finance, check back every Wednesday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or health advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

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