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!
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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