This past year, I was in grad school, and that meant writing academic papers which is something I haven’t done in over twenty years. Every single time I sat down to write, I discovered something a little weird: I craved a cigarette. I quit smoking over twenty years ago, but apparently the association between smoking and writing university papers is fused into my brain somewhere.
So, what did I do? I changed the pattern just a bit. Instead of working on my papers in the evenings when the kids were in bed, I started getting up extra early before the rest of the family to write, instead (something I neverdid back in the day).
The same thing holds true for making financial changes. If you’re trying to break a particular financial habit, look around at the corresponding life habit that might be linked to it, and make a change to the other habit. Or, if you’re trying to create a new financial habit, try also creating corresponding positive life habit – something that you enjoy, that you can link to the new financial habit. You may need to take a different route to or from work. Find a different place to eat, or to shop for groceries. Maybe the solution is a different shopping companion, or eliminating shopping companions altogether? It might even be something as simple as designating a special device for viewing and making online purchases or checking your investments.
If we keep the old habits attached the old behaviour, we increase the chances of getting sucked back in to our old way of behaving around money. By proactively creating a new routine around the new financial behavior, we vastly increase our chances of sticking to the new behavior.