I am obsessed with the idea of habit change. It makes perfect sense to me that as the author James Clear explains; the little things we do every day are a lagging measure of our trajectory. Overspend a little every day and you end up broke over a lifetime. Have too many nightly nibbles of the chocolates that you hide in your sock drawer (so that you don’t have to share them with your children) and you’ll end up buying bigger knickers.
Unfortunately I am afflicted with hundreds of bad habits (snacking in bed, cursing like I’ve got Tourettes, using unopened mail as kindling for the fire etc) and very few good ones. Recently I have been trying to change this and following these three rules has been making it a lot easier.
1. Make it visible. I often have good intentions that I simply forget about after a few days. “Making it visible” can mean leaving an item in plain sight (for example, leaving a fruit bowl right on the counter if your goal is to eat more fruit) or scheduling a regular action that you want to take in your calendar. Remembering your “why” and making it visible is equally important. Write a note where you can see it every day to remind yourself of your purpose. “I want to have a picnic under the Eiffel Tower” or “I want to be a homeowner” written on the bathroom mirror is a powerful motivator in the mornings to decrease unnecessary spending.
2. Make it easy. I’m lazy, you’re lazy, we’re all lazy. Our brains will always try talk us out of doing things that are difficult. If there is a way to make your new habit easier, you will be much more likely to stick with it. If you want to save 10% of your income, then have it come out of your bank account automatically at the beginning of every month. If you want to eat more vegetables then chop and cook them at the beginning of the week so they are easy to grab at mealtimes.
3. Make it fun! If you make your new habit as pleasurable as possible you are less likely to want to put it off. If you want to spend 15 minutes cleaning up downstairs every night before you got to bed then light a nice candle, put on some music, set a timer and race yourself. If you want to write a book work on a side hustle, or go through your monthly budget then slip yourself a square of chocolate or stick your feet in a foot massager when you open your laptop.