How to Change your Life Forever

by Krantcents · 43 comments

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Change is difficult!  It was so much easier when I was in school and I just wanted to improve my grades. All I had to do was change my behavior!  You know, go to class instead of cutting, study instead of letting my books collect dust and do my homework. All the things, I was not doing! Now let’s apply this solution to everything else.


As an adult, life is a little more complicated!  Recently, I wrote an article about reflecting on your progress because 2013 is half over. It is important to check your progress from time to time. I try to monitor my progress much more often. I set up tasks based on my goals and monitor my progress daily/weekly/monthly. It may not make sense for you to monitor your goals that often, but you must check your progress more often than once or twice a year.

Let’s start at the beginning! Is everything going the way you want? Do you need to change something? Maybe it is reducing debt, start a savings account, invest in retirement, lose weight or break a bad habit. What do you want to do? Whatever habit you want to break, you want to replace it with a good habit. Just spending less and repaying more debt is too simple! Most people know that is the solution, but you need to make a change in order to do it. Change is always difficult.

One answer is to create a budget.  For some, a budget is a dirty word, but it is simply a structure to help you reach your financial goals. I use the budgeting process to set priorities financially. What are your priorities? Is it savings or spending? If savings are important to you, start with that. Deduct 10%, for example before you budget any other expense. By doing that, you are willing to adjust all your other expenses to achieve the 10% savings goal. It has become your number one priority!

You can change the percentage or pick something else, but start with your most important or highest priority.  Have you ever budgeted that way?  Keeping budgeting simple can make it more effective and far less threatening.  It is not a form of discipline unless you need it. A budget will keep you accountable because you will see whether you achieve or miss your goals.It is simply helping you achieve your financial goals. You can use something similar to lose weight and other habits you want to change.

What would you change? Would these changes make your life better? If you think back to school, did it make you happier to get good grades, make varsity, earn some money for a car or voted Homecoming King or Queen? Whatever the accomplishment, it felt good. There is something about accomplishments that feeds our self esteem. Making changes to make you better will help you accomplish more. Good grades and those other accomplishments will help you get into a better college and then a well paying career.

How to make changes that last

  • Set your priority – Set a goal and make it important! In college, I saw a girl on campus that I wanted to meet. The simple answer was to just go up to her and introduce myself. I realized I was not BMOC (big man on campus), star quarterback, super handsome or rich. Taking inventory, I was a jock, but not a star. Good personality, but not ready for prime time! I was neither handsome nor ugly. No car, but I had access to friends with cars.  Hardly a catch! I made her a priority!
  • Put together a plan – Every plan is different!  It may be a budget for financial goals or more detailed for something else. I start with the outcome and break it down into smaller tasks. In other words, I take something big and break it into smaller tasks that I can accomplish and be successful. If I were trying to lose weight, I would have a diet. Not a normal diet! I make very few changes because I know it will work better. I know that if I just control my portions, I will lose weight over time.  Makes sense!  After all, that is how I lost weight.
  • Create good habits or break bad ones – It takes twenty-one (21) consecutive days to form or break a habit. If I can give up dessert or substitute a bad food with a fruit for twenty-one (21) days, it is a habit. This works for overspending, but may require a little more work. For example, only shop with a list or only replace things that are worn out. What habits do you want to change?
  • Only focus on one issue at a time – Start with one habit or issue and concentrate on it for twenty-one (21) days. After you accomplished creating a good habit or getting rid of a bad habit, you have learned how to do it. You also can feel good about accomplishing something that you thought was difficult or impossible. Success breeds success!
  • Hold yourself accountable – If you are self motivated, all you have to do is set the goal!  If you want or need help, make your goals public. It is one of the reasons Weight Watchers is so successful. Another reason is support along the way. Recognition is one way to motivate you to reach your goal, another is rewarding yourself as you reach milestones. If you fail, don’t give up! Make changes and keep trying! 

Final thoughts 

Success is just a habit! A lot is written about how to reach your goals and I have contributed to that too. I wanted to step back and write how you help you reach your goals. My wife thinks I am successful because I am disciplined, but that is not true. I developed a strategy for problem solving and goal setting that has helped me be successful. I think it was something I learned at a very early age when I was playing cards and board games. Many may feel sports and games are just something to round out our education.  It taught me how to set goals, change habits, strategy and plan. Change is difficult, but you can do it!


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Holly@ClubThrifty August 27, 2013 at 5:34 am

Great post! I totally agree that most of success is just good habits. I still have some bad habits but I’ve been trying to ditch them…. It is very hard. For instance, I still hit the snooze button for 30 minutes every single day. I drive myself crazy with that!

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 6:54 am

I bet you set your alarm earlier so you can do that! Actually, that is not such a bad habit.

Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter August 27, 2013 at 6:14 am

Success is definitely just a habit (or, a series of them). It’s hard to change your behaviour, but if you are consistent and you can get past that initial hump, then you’re in the clear. I think we all have bad habits to break!

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 6:55 am

If you can identify them, you can work on breaking them.

Stuart@DailyMoneyBucket August 27, 2013 at 6:16 am

One of the best books I read last year was “The Power Of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.

It explains why we have habits, how they are formed and how to use them to our advantage.

Some new habits form quicker than others. While hitting the snooze button every morning can become habit within a couple of days, more demanding routines, such as a two mile run every afternoon can take 60 or even 90 days to develop.

As you mentioned, it’s crucial to focus on one habit at a time. Only move on to develop a new habit once the previous habit is fully formed.

Anyway, I highly recommend “The Power Of Habit”.

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 6:57 am

Good and bad habits are always a mystery as to how they start. I am constantly trying to change the habits in the middle (neither good or bad) to be become more productive.

Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce August 27, 2013 at 7:34 am

Begin with the end in mind, for sure. Great post. Maybe my memory is deceiving me, but didn’t you write about budgets not working a while back?

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 7:57 am

Budgets do not weork in itself unless you put a great deal into it. You have to actually take a hard look on your spending and make a change to have a good budget or plan. I have written about budgets a numbe rof times.

catherine August 27, 2013 at 7:36 am

Humans are creatures of habit one were able to build good habits things are so much easier!

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 7:58 am

Ifit were only that easy, we all would have good habuts. It takes a procative person to improve their habits and get rid of their bad habits.

No Waste August 27, 2013 at 7:52 am

I second the point about focusing on one issue at a time.

Don’t try to change seven different things at the same time.

Doomed to fail.

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 7:59 am

Thanks, I find concentrating on one habit at a time just more effective.

The College Investor August 27, 2013 at 8:18 am

Great post – I would even argue that you should only focus on 1 issue at a time if you want lasting change. I see to many people go after a myriad of things to change, and end up changing nothing.

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 11:01 am

I like to focus on one habit to add or break because it is more likely to last.

Money Beagle August 27, 2013 at 9:22 am

I love the part about concentrating on one thing at a time. I think part of the problem on why so many personal goals are not met is because they’re too big and people try to concentrate on too much at once. How many January weight loss programs would turn out different if, instead of saying “I want to lose 50 pounds this year!”, were approached with, “I’m going to lose 5 pounds in January!” and then set another milestone once that goal was achieved?

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 11:03 am

If you just concentrate on why you gained the weight, you aremore likely to find the cause. For example, I like desserts. If I give up a dessert a day, I will lose weight.

Modest Money August 27, 2013 at 10:48 am

I believe its Plato who said it, “An unexamined life is not worth living” and it ties quite nicely with your post. To change, you must first be aware of where you are going wrong and then take steps constantly to correct. Rinse and repeat and you have formed a habit. Change is difficult as you point out, its best to take baby steps towards your ideal habits.
Great post.

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 11:06 am

I think making small changes in anything from your asset allocation to weight loss work best! Radical or extreme changes are unsustainable. Savings 50-70% or liquid diet works for a short time and you never establish a savings habit you can live with long run or maintain your weight.

John S @ Frugal Rules August 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Good post! Setting a plan and focusing on one thing at a time are big ones for me. I tend to get distracted by other, less important tasks that focusing on one item really does help me make the change/achieve what I want much more effectively.

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

If it is important enough to make it a goal, it is important enough to focus on it.

Jon @ MoneySmartGuides August 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm

I agree with focusing on one thing at a time and would add to take it slow. We all want to change quickly, but quick change rarely lasts. Taking it slow ensures that you develop good habits that you can stick with over the long term. Think of it this way, you can’t just get up and run a marathon. You have to start slow and build up to the distance over time. Same thing applies with any change. Slow and consistent.

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 8:52 pm

It takes 22 consecutive days to make or break a habit which is hardly fast Making it a part of routine probably takes longer. Long range, you want to add to your skills and habits.

Andy Hough August 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm

It makes sense that establishing a habit will lead to lasting change. Making something a habit can be really difficult. The idea of focusing on just one thing should help.

Krantcents August 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Making the effort to make a change or establishing a habit does not take all of your time, but you must work at it.

Untemplater August 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Great advice as always KC. I’ve been working harder at prioritizing lately to get my work/life balance in a better state. Focusing helps a lot too.

Krantcents August 28, 2013 at 6:51 am

Good for you! I constantly try to find that balance! I think I am getting better over time.

Rita P August 27, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Knowing your priorities and setting plans to reach them is very important factors. It is very much true that making any changes is quite difficult and you need to be quite disciplined to do so. Success should become habit and you need to be open to make those necessary changes in your life to succeed. Good post

Krantcents August 28, 2013 at 6:52 am

Thanks. Although I am disciplined, I think it is my determination that usually helps me succeed.

Squirrelers August 28, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Habits matter, and to the extent we can put things on autopilot – it makes it easy to succeed. No mental energy spent on trying to do something if it’s already an ingrained habit. Like brushing teeth – may have been tough getting trained as a young kid, but before long it’s a total no-brainer that any one from childhood to old age does as habit.

Also, one thing at a time is a good idea. Multi-tasking can be counterproductive, as there time/attention costs to switching from task to task.

Good post!

Krantcents August 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Thanks, your habit s determine success or failure! Why not change for success.

Martin August 28, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I agree on the one item focus advice. Multitasking can slow you or even break you, mainly when you are a male part of the human race. We suck in it. Women can do better. I learned this at high school when I made a bet with my teacher that I finish the school with A grades (before that it was a disaster), so I had a lot of hard work in front of me to improve and single task planning one after another got me to the end winning the bet.

Krantcents August 28, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Setting goals raises expectations and usually results. Sometimes silly things like making abet can motivate you to success.

Kim@Eyesonthedollar August 30, 2013 at 9:18 am

I’m really bad about trying to do too many things at once. I think everything suffers if I am not prioritizing. I do believe success is a habit that can be formed. Successful people aren’t just lucky, they have planned to be that way. It doesn’t just fall into your lap.

Krantcents August 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I totally agree! I believe my planning and problem solving skills helped me to be more successful.

Buck Inspire August 31, 2013 at 10:00 am

Inspiring post KC! So you were a jock? Which sport? I think this feeds your confidence to make change. Great advice and examples. I like your point about success breeds success. The opposite is true as well so we should do everything in our power to get positive outcomes instead of negative ones.

Krantcents August 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

In college, I was on the crew. If you are not familiar with it is a 8 man shell where you row. It is the ultimate team sport because you need to work together to succeed. Forming good or bad habits is a matter of choice. You make choices all the time, some are conscious and others are unconscious. Everyone should reflect on their habits and determine if they are good for accomplishing what you want which I believe is success.

Alexis Marlons September 1, 2013 at 2:09 am

These are very good points here. No matter how intelligent or knowledgeable you may be, if you lack the right attitude and perseverance, you can never achieve that sweet success.

Krantcents September 1, 2013 at 10:35 am

Attitude and determination are key to success. Overcoming obstacles and turning failure into success is based in attitude and determination.

Mitchell G. Owens September 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Breaking bad habits takes time and effort, but mostly it takes perseverance. Most people who end up breaking their bad habits try and fail multiple times before they make it work. You might not have success right away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have it at all.

Krantcents September 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Absolutely! Anything worthwhile takes time and effort. Good or bad habits take time to form and it takes time to break.

Prime Guy September 23, 2013 at 1:22 am

Well, I think the first thing that’s essential to changing your life forever is financial freedom. How to achieve financial independence is rather complex… But even once you’ve started, the small steps can help a lot. Your entire life will change once you aren’t dependent on anyone else.
I know they say “money doesn’t bring happiness”, but not depending on a job, not hanging by a thread can deeply change your life.
I really loved that 10 % rule in this article! Original idea, indeed!

Krantcents September 23, 2013 at 6:54 am

I achieved financial freedom 28 years ago and it changed my life! I have pursued all the things I enjoy doing vs. what I need to do.

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