The new year always ushers in a myriad of good intentions. A gajillion new goals to achieve, habits to change and pounds to lose. Gym membership sign up is at an all time high. And then February comes, and we are back to your old ways. The detox is done. The couch is restored to its favourite friend status, and the to do list remains untouched. You’re credit card is still trying to recover from Christmas and back-to-school expenses. And you’re not quite on track with your financial goals.
So why is it that it is so hard to change our behaviour?
- Our reason for change is not strong enough. Either we haven’t visualized in enough detail, adding feeling, sound, touch or taste. Or, our reason isn’t something we value deeply enough – usually backed up by one of those Ah Ha moments. It’s no point wanting to save more money to buy a flashy car when in fact you don’t value flashy cars. Leo Babauta in his book Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change suggests that your reason for change needs to be linked to serving others. His example is that you may be unable to give up smoking now because you know it’s better for you at sometime in the future, but you may be able to if the reason was your child or wife. You may not be able to save money now for your retirement in the future – but I find my client’s focus is honed when I tell them that currently they will be dependent on their children to support them… Which will mean your grandchildren won’t get to do the violin lessons or have the extra maths lessons they need because you’re buying an extra pair of shoes now.
- We leave our goals as lofty aspirations. A goal ‘to be able to retire’ is never going to stop you spending now. You need to break it down into baby habits that you do every day. Make your first goal ‘to have enough money for food and medical expenses’. Understand that number and work out how much you can save each month toward it. Then set up a direct debit as your first habit – or transfer the money on the day you get paid. Then make a habit to check your balance every Friday morning so you make sure you aren’t going into debt as a result of saving that money.
- We don’t have an accountability partner. Someone who you can be honest with, who will act as the voice in your head when you feel that ‘just this once won’t matter’.
- We aren’t organised. One of the keys to achieving any goal is to be organised. Make sure that you get the documentation together to open the index tracker account, and then make sure that you have the direct debit set up for the day you get paid. Make sure you buy the birthday presents early so that in a rush the hour before you buy the first thing you see at double the cost. Plan your holidays early.
Make a commitment to one small action
Don’t try change everything at once. Commit to one baby habit. When that’s become a new way of being, then take on the next baby habit.
Attend our course on 10 March from 9-1pm in Rosebank