When You Change Your Routine…

Happy New Year! I know, it’s not actually New Years day, but every day is a better day to make resolutions than New Years Eve. They just have a much better chance of success if you make them without the societal pressure of that day of the year.

One of the easiest ways, without getting into a lot of psychological jargon, is to change your routine. Think about the dozens of steps when you want to get in your car and drive somewhere. Dozens of steps and hundreds upon hundreds of things your brain and muscles need to do in order to make it happen. Open the door, get in, get your body adjusted, close the door, reach across for the seat belt, fasten it, check the mirror, put the right key into the ignition the right way, turn it with your foot on the break, move your hand to the gear shift, move it into reverse, etc. etc.

Now watch a teenager who has never driven a car attempt to do that. The process will take ten minutes plus. But when you don’t have a routine, you don’t automatically do things. The teenager has to actively think about each step, one step at a time.

So, if you break your routine, you’re way more likely to think before just doing, acting, or spending. Which routine do you do that comes with an automatic action of spending? If you constantly overspend and buy crap you don’t need in the grocery store, go with someone who holds you accountable, skip one isle that makes trouble for you, go to a different store, a different time of the day, with a specific list, or whatever it takes to get out of your routine.

Perhaps it’s your automatic stop at the coffee place in the morning. Maybe breaking your routine is as simple as leaving five minutes later and taking a different route. They DO have coffee at work, or you can have another cup at home. If you always go to the mall, stop going to the mall, because you know you end up bringing something home. In fact, the average person going to the mall spends $104 every time in there!

When you don’t have a routine, your brain has to think through each step of what you’re doing and it WILL change how you behave. That applies to a diet just as much as quitting a habit such as your spending routine. If you stay in the mode of always doing the same thing, reaching for your wallet is an automatic reaction that you never think about, just like the routine of getting in your car.

If you’re thinking that won’t work, that won’t make a difference, or what’s the use, I have news for you: You’re destined to spend the next year in the same financial mess you’re in right now. If nothing changes – nothing changes. If you know that you need to take better care of your money, you can’t accomplish that by doing the same thing again for another year. You know that already. The question is whether the pain of where you’re at is high enough that you’re prepared to take in some different information and try something a little different. Until then your same actions will get you the same results you’ve always had.

As Nike would say: Just do it! Or a great recent Facebook post changing around the Forrest Gump saying that life is not like a box of chocolates. It’s more like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today can burn your butt tomorrow.

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