Our habits can make us rich or kill us.
I first came across this thought in a Mr. Money Mustache blog post. After I read it, I started thinking: would I rather release some old habits and learn new ones—thus allowing me to work part time and free me up to spend more time with my family and on other activities I love—or work full time?
It was a no brainer: learn some new habits!
So ever since, I’ve been fascinated by the study of habits and read up on them whenever I stumble across a related book or article. Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned over the years:
1) Your habits affect everything about your life. And I mean everything: from how big your waist is to the size of your bank/retirement accounts. So it’s worthwhile to not only learn about habits, but pay attention to your habits if you want to change something in your life.
2) Make it convenient to make a habit easy. Like put multiple bags in the back of both cars and stock the cars with quarters so it’s easy to stop at Aldi’s on the way home—because if you’re anything like me, once you get home, the only thing that would force you to leave your house is an invasion from a zombie apocalypse.
3) It’s difficult to get rid of habits, so try to replace them with something similar instead. Herbal tea can replace coffee if you’re like me and drink too much of it. Or you could try seltzer water instead, but it’s not warm like tea, so similarity is lost.
4) Come up with your own productivity hacks to change bad habits. I had the bad habit while trying to fall asleep of capturing my thoughts on my i-phone’s memo section, thus exposing my eyes to light. Having my phone nearby also gave myself the easy option of hitting the snooze button in the morning.
I read Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, a book about mastering the habits of our everyday lives. After that, I started to sleep with a voice recorder instead and put the phone far across the room—thus forcing me to rocket out of bed to shut the alarm off for fear of it waking the kids (you haven’t lived until you’ve dealt with a cranky three year old at four in the morning).
Productivity Hacks Bonus: After taking a great 3-hour productivity hacks for writers course off Udemy, my writing output sky rocketed. That and reading this amazing e-book “From 2K to 10K” (I still want to read 168 Hours: You Have More Time than you Think).
5) Figure out your nature and which habits work best for your type of personality. Gretchen Rubin’s book also helped me figure out which types of habits work best for me—I just wish she’d put the personality test questions near the start of the book instead of in the back!
Since I read her book while in Spain, my husband, who ran out of reading material there, also picked it up. He said it was an eye opening read that helped him understand me better. Like why I do certain things such as track my exercise and other stuff (“I finally get you” were his exact words after reading the book).
So bonus points to Gretchen for a better understanding in our marriage. Because after reading her book, I realized in my discussions with DH I have to appeal to logic and reason for what’s best for the family—because that’s how his brain works.
Next week we’ll finish the list of what I’ve learned about habits over the years so you can look at your own life and see what you can tweak to make not only your financial situation better, but your life overall. Until then!