Six Steps to Better Habits

Good HabitsChances are, you made a number of firm resolutions at the start of the year—and, if you’re normal, you may already be falling behind on some (or all) of them.  Is there a better way to stick to your sincere resolutions to get more exercise, eat better, floss more often, lose weight, and—everyone’s favorite—increase your financial knowledge?

A recent report suggests that there are actually six ways to improve your follow-through on self-improvement.  The first is to start with a keystone habit, like exercise.  A keystone habit is one that improves a variety of other habits by helping you see yourself in a different way.  If you exercise, you tend to feel better about your body, eat more healthfully and procrastinate less often—a three-for-one deal.

Second, start small.  If you want to floss more often, start by flossing just one tooth.  Yes, that sounds silly, but eventually, if you start lazily, you’ll get in the habit of having the floss in your hand once or twice a day, and you’ll address those other teeth in your mouth.  If you start off too ambitiously, meanwhile, the habit is never formed in the first place.

Third: make a plan for how you’re going to follow through on the resolution.  One interesting study showed a group of students’ photos of what could happen to them if they failed to get a preventive tetanus shot.  Another group were given a map to the clinic and were helped to put an appointment on their calendar.  Guess which group showed up to get the shot?  28% of the students who left with a plan followed through on it, while only 3% of those who saw the awful consequences of contracting tetanus got the shot.  Writing down your goals and putting your times to exercise on your calendar, can improve your odds of keeping your resolution.

Fourth: bribe yourself.  Pick something you want, and give it to yourself only if you follow through on your resolution.  One study participant wanted to listen to the audio book of The Hunger Games, so she only allowed herself to listen to it at the gym.  Suddenly, she was looking forward to sitting on the exercise bike.

Fifth: remind yourself.  You can set the alarm app on your phone to encourage you to save money, reduce smoking or go to the gym.  You can make a checklist of the things you want to do every day.

Finally: Get your friends to help you keep your promises to yourself.  Your support network can hold you accountable for stopping smoking or spending more time at the gym.  They might even agree to accompany you.

And if you fail to follow through despite all these tips?  The research says that you should follow the advice of the great Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius: forgive yourself and try again. For further details on these six habits, click here.

I don’t know if we’ll accompany you to the gym but we’re definitely here to help you achieve your financial resolutions! Let us know how we can help and cheers to your success!

Evelyn Zohlen on Linkedin
Evelyn Zohlen
“My own life-changing transition inspired me to start Inspired Financial so that I could help other women and their families navigate their difficult life transitions and emerge confident, financially secure and empowered to deal with future life events.”

6 Comments

tom hamman

Thanks for the thought provoking blog …. I will re-read this several times until I get it all (hopefully in this year) …

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Evelyn Zohlen

I’m glad that you enjoyed it! Let me know if you need an “accountability partner” (sixth step) as my husband tells me I’m a pretty good nudge!

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Don DeBok

Make your sign on password to something you use often into a reminder. Use License plate lingo like Run2imrove!!

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Evelyn Zohlen

Great idea! I also like meaningful words with number or character substitutes like m00nbe@m. Thanks for your post!

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Tony Ceballos

Oh you make me laugh, resolutions? Cann’t remember the last time I made any, and you’re right, because by the end of the first month they were all forgotten. My main goal now is to live each day as best I can and to be thankful when I wake up the following day. Gloria and I do have gym memberships and keep telling ourselves that we need to start going again. I’m hoping your blog helps push us in that direction. Maybe item #4 would work. I’m always open to a bribe.

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Evelyn Zohlen

Meaningful rewards are always a good motivator but I’m not sure how the reward of a nice bottle of tequila aligns with your fitness goals! Thanks for your note!

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