By Miles Clyne
Many suggest the way to ensure you build your wealth is through good financial planning. I don’t disagree but for many, financial planning fails. This is not because of bad planning or lack of good intentions. Planning can fail because the approach didn’t work for the individual(s).
Financial planning identifies how to spend and save. You get a spreadsheet and a roadmap showing what you can expect at a future date if you follow the rules. If significant changes are needed to put the plan into action, it can be a hard sell and it can be very difficult for people to stay committed to the plan.
Whether you’ve completed a financial plan or if you already have goals and aren’t getting the results you’d like, why is that? Check under the hood and look at your habits. Habits can work for you as well as against you. Habits, like figuring out many things in life, are a process of elimination. Learning to do more of what works takes you further from the things that don’t. Pretty simple when you think about it.
“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” Charles C. Nobel
Having goals should be motivating, but they can also be depressing if you aren’t getting closer to them. If you want to be a great reader, having a goal of reading a book a week may lead to failure of your goal. Make the goal to read daily and watch the habit form along with the pleasure of reading.
Making radical changes doesn’t work for most. To improve any aspect of your life, commit to a small positive change you can do regularly, preferably daily. Watch how this becomes automatic as your brain rewires itself to the new activity. As the habit forms, so to does the ability to stay committed. A goal can be onerous to achieve, a habit is only onerous when you don’t stay true to it.
When it comes to reaching financial/life goals most successful people agree they formed important habits, then continued to improve on them.
It doesn’t have to be about money; just read about how Buddhist monks spend their day. If it is about money, ask Warren Buffett. Mr. Buffett is quoted as saying: “I just sit in my office and read all day.” He estimates he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking. My guess is that both a Buddhist monk and Mr. Buffett would become very uncomfortable if they didn’t follow their habits.
We need to ask ourselves and others about our habits. Getting someone else’s opinion may be very revealing. What we see as a positive habit, someone else may perceive completely differently. The more good habits we have, the quicker we achieve our goals as we have less time for the habits that anchor us in yesterday.
Habits are one of the most dependable things we have in our lives. Put them to the best use possible, they are there for you when you aren’t motivated, out of energy, or encounter any of the other million distractions daily life throws at us.