Habits are more important than decision making. “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” (Vince Lombardi). All of us have good and bad habits. A habit is a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition. Little things like your morning coffee, exercise, getting up early, reading or watching TV are all habits. Which ones will help you get to your goal?
Personal finance, physical, emotional, mental, professional and personal habits can be good or bad. Have you ever wondered why you cannot lose weight? It is probably your eating habits paired with your inactivity. If you can change those habits, you will not only lose weight, but keep it off. This is true regarding personal finance too! You have spending habits that keep you from saving. If you could start a savings habit and reduce your spending, you will be on your way to your goal.
I am going to reduce all the personal finance advice to one sentence. Spend less than you earn. That short answer is jam packed with an important habit whether you earn a million dollars or ten thousand a year. You have a limit and you cannot exceed it. It is similar to a weight limit in an elevator. If you exceed it, it won’t work. I would add another habit which is savings. I recommend saving at least 10% of your gross pay. If you earn a million dollars, it would be $100,000. Create a payroll deduction and live on what is left.
The cost of obesity is approaching $300 billion a year! Why does it matter? It increases health care costs, mortality, disability and we all pay for it. You can do something about obesity. The easy answer is move and keep moving for at least thirty (30) minutes a day. You can walk, ride a bike, swim, exercise or just don’t sit down. Staying healthy is just a habit away. If you drive to work, walk during lunch. Park your car further away, so you have to walk part of the way. You can overcome obesity and stay healthy.
Why do you eat? Is it because you are really hungry or to compensate for emotional stress. Years ago, I was under stress and ate to compensate. I gained weight and felt worse. Now I exercise when I feel stress. It is a much better solution. Any physical exercise release endorphins which makes you feel better. It is better than a candy bar and you still look good. Nearly eight weeks ago, my wife and I started walking for exercise every night. It is a great opportunity to talk uninterrupted and get exercise. Win/win!
Are you a lifelong learner? If not, you should be! Your brain is something that needs exercise too. Learn a new language, do crossword puzzles, read, write, think or do something. If you don’t, you will lose your skills. Mental stimulation is an important factor in reducing the risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Learn something new, practice memorization, strategy games or other things to stimulate your brain. Don’t forget your social life. Social connections are important so get together with friends and family.
Little things go a long way at work. Are you perceived as positive? I always get into work early! It shows everyone that I want to be there. I say good morning to everyone I see and act pleasant. Are you helpful to your colleagues? Are you the one everyone can rely on? These professional habits make you invaluable. Are you a hard worker? If you are a hard worker, you are an example for others. Do you have good work habits? If not, you can change.
Good personal habits can fill pages, but they usually help you be your best. Most of us just react to circumstances in our lives. Some may even plan for the unexpected. Most of us have personal habits that dictate how you react to problems. Every time I am faced with a problem, I focus on what outcome I am trying to achieve. I am solution focused! Some people would just complain when faced with a problem. My solution is far more productive and less frustrating. What do you do?
We learn habits over time, some good and bad. Rewards or negative feedback influences our behavior. Our habits dictate our actions. How you work, play, eat, interact and spend your money are all habits. Habits dictate the actions and the results in our lives. If you eat too much, you will have to exercise even more to control your weight. If that is not a habit, you will gain weight. I takes approximate twenty-one (21) days to form or break a habit. Change your bad habits and add good habit to get you to your goal. Winning is my habit. What is yours? Habits require repetition, start working on it!
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