7 tips to improve or drop bad habits
What exactly is a habit anyway?
The Oxford dictionary defines it as: A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
Breaking bad habits or implementing new ones is often a New Year’s resolution. But that effort can help you become a better version of yourself.
Remember that you can’t change your entire world all at once. Pick something specific you really want to change and move on to the next thing only once the first becomes a part of your routine. In other words, you’re not going to become a millionaire or save significantly more money for retirement overnight! Try these tips:
- Be realistic - Choose a specific but achievable goal. Managing your money better, for example, is a little too general. But devising a monthly budget to track expenses and seeking ways to save on insurance policies and other bills is a task you can take steps to accomplish.
- Attach your habit to existing behaviour - Choose a regular part of your routine and partner it with your new habit. If you schedule your calendar weekly, take the opportunity to review what you’ve spent money during the same period.
- Reward yourself- Every time you accomplish the desired behaviour, give yourself a treat. It acts as positive reinforcement for the task you have just completed. (And yes, a little piece of chocolate is OK)
- Have a backup plan- Don’t let an obstacle trip you up and use it as an excuse to reaching your goal. If you’re trying to contribute more to your savings every paycheque,
for example, don’t stop trying if you don’t meet your goal for one pay period.
- Measure progress - If you record your progress in a budgeting program, for example, you can see the results that are bringing you closer to your financial goals. It will help add up the money you’ve saved on things like switching insurance companies or cellphone packages to name a few. Get quotes and find out!
- Be patient – Scientific studies have shown that it can take about two months – or 66 days to be exact – to change a habit. Being diligent and consistent is hard. But if you keep plugging away, the repetition itself will reinforce the new behaviour.
- Seek additional support - if you’re having trouble making changes on your own, reaching out can help! It’s a lot like adopting a gym buddy that helps motivates each of you to hit the gym every day. Partner with a friend who’s also trying to stay on budget and trade strategies that work or consult a professional financial advisor.