I have had the pleasure of reading several good books in a row lately. My new knowledge has given me insight into goal making before this important time of reflection and renewal…a new year! The lessons I have learned will help you to understand how to keep your new years resolutions. I will share each lesson, the source and the key takeaways that you can apply right away.
Understand How Habits are Formed and Changed
Atomic Habits by James Clear reveals how our brains form habits and tips to control habit formation and elimination.
There are four parts of habit formation: 1) Cue: signals brain to start a certain behavior 2) Craving: motivates habit 3) Response: performing of habit and 4) Reward: satisfies us and teaches us what we should keep doing.
An example is the habit of watching Netflix every night. The cue is seeing your computer after work. the craving is being able to rest your body and mind, the response is browsing Netlix and choosing a movie or show and the reward is escaping to a new world where you can forget about the day and snuggle up in your bed or sofa for the duration.
To change habits you must do the following:
Make the new habit obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying.
For example, instead of watching Netflix every night you want to meditate and write in your journal before bed. To make this change you need to create a space where you are being welcomed to meditate, like a corner with comfortable spacing, beautiful decor, maybe some lowered lighting and soothing music. You could put your journal on your pillow every morning before you start your day, so it is ready to write in before you lay your head down. The satisfaction can come from a clear mind, relaxation, better sleep and interconnectedness.
Environment makes a huge difference in making a new habit obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying, so take the time to look around to see if your surroundings support the changes you want to make. If you put your laptop or TV remote right next your bed instead of your journal, which will you go for after a long day?
If you want to make real, lasting changes you cannot just aim to change results or habit systems, you have to make the goal to change your identity, which is essentially your beliefs about yourself and others. An example from the book is that you are no longer running a marathon…you are a runner!
So, choose the person you want to be and prove through small frequently repeated actions that you are that person. This changes the goal and certainly creates more permanent changes in becoming improved.
There are a lot of other great lessons from this book, but these are the ones that I will leave with you to implement. Check out the book to read or listen to so.
Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses and Ask the Right Questions about Them
Rising Strong by Brene Brown was very enlightening for me. And not in the way that I thought it would be when I picked it up for the first time.
We write stories in our minds all the time. Some are true and some are completely false, but we write these stories regardless. If we can start to step back and ask ourselves why we feel a certain way, we can begin to uncover ways to change the how we approach our challenges.
For example, a story I write often in my mind is that if I don’t get a particular item on sale, I will miss out and be full of regret later on when I pay for the item full price. This story has led to purchases, some that I had money for and others that I did not have the money for. For the first time in many years I started to ask the right questions about these emotions and this story I write over and over. Literally write out the first draft of the stories you are telling yourself so you can analyze them and get your feelings down on paper. This is a super healthy way to get some clarity.
Truth is, I am ashamed to have less money than others. We were not destitute growing up, but we lived paycheck to paycheck and there was a lot of stress associated with the cost of everything. I was surrounded by friends who had wealthy parents and rarely had to work very hard to get the things they needed and even wanted. Early on, I knew that having to wear the same two jeans for a year was vastly different than the new outfits worn each day by my friends.
My shame turned into an obsession to earn enough to get what I needed and wanted through hard work and sometimes poor financial choices. Understanding this motivation behind my spending habits has transformed the way I approach my goal of being debt-free and my perspective on my husband’s role as the financial provider in our family.
I still get some anxiety when something I want is on sale, but I can now step back and ask myself reasonable questions instead of being driven by my shame. Can I afford this? Is this something I actually need? Is there something I want more than this that I want to save up for? Will I regret this purchase later on? What purpose does this purchase play in my life? Would it be best to wait or talk to Cody about this purchase first?
Another struggle is that I see others creating and it seems that they do so without any limitations. Other home bloggers seems to have endless budgets, sponsors and energy to create spaces. When I focus on all that they have and what I lack, I start to justify my spending through the lens of creation and impatience. I don’t want it to take 6 months to finish a room because I have to set aside a little bit each month instead of getting everything I need/want right away and just getting it done. This struggle can be curbed again by understanding my motivation and having integrity about my values, despite others.
When we begin to see ourselves with honesty and vulnerability, there is nothing we cannot learn from and nothing that we cannot rise from. See your weaknesses and strengths and ask the right questions!
Understand Your Values and Live Accordingly
The last book I read recently is The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko. This book is full of surprises and awesome case studies that bring the lessons to life.
The reason most millionaires live next door is because they are not trying to prove anything to anyone else, and they make sound decisions based on their financial reality or at least based on the financial reality they are determined to create. They do not have to have the fanciest of everything to prove that they are wealthy. They simply know where every dollar goes and work hard to live frugal.
Millionaires spend more time planning their finances than worrying about the future. They are usually business owners or professionals that are super savvy with their income. The most applicable lesson I learned from this book though can apply to you whether you strive for financial independence or not–the key to any success is discipline and value integrity.
All of the millionaires had their own set of values that they lived by that did not change as their bank accounts began to fill up. They disciplined themselves to go without and never wavered from their frugality just to show off. They wanted to pass down a legacy of wisdom and not just monetary inheritance. Lots of money doesn’t do a chronic spender any good.
So, if you want to be a millionaire or you have the goal to keep your house clean or any goal, the key is to set your values, identity goals and discipline yourself day in and day out to become new! I wrote a whole post about value based planning here.
My hope for you this new year is to create goals to become something you have always wanted to become and then set the systems to help you prove to yourself everyday that you are that person. I also hope you take the time to see yourself clearly and ask the right questions so you can make needed adjustments along the way.
Cheers to a year full of change and growth!