The 3 Steps to Effectively Dealing with Money Habits that are Harmful

The first element you need to consider in transforming behaviors and habits is to determine what it is you want to achieve.

What is your desired outcome? No, winning the lottery or waiting for an inheritance, or saying yes to one more credit card offer are not acceptable responses? Why? They do not carry your measure of responsibility or commitment to them. They are a means to your outcome.  

If you are not clear about what it is you really want, you will have a hard time recognizing when you have reached it. How can you recognize it? You don’t know what it is!

Initially, what you say you want to achieve may be somewhat vague. That’s okay, you are merely beginning to identify and describe it. It would be like picking up a paint brush and painting at the level of Rembrandt the first time. It won’t happen for most people. And if you were able to do that the first time you put a paint brush to canvas, well you can skip this one step.

What’s so important about determining what you really want to achieve? It opens up the direction you need to take to achieve it.

Second you need to stop, look, listen, and do something about your triggers, those cues that “make you” respond in ways that don’t work for you.

Let’s say, for example that you are really good with holding on to your money until “something comes up” that peaks your interest. Perhaps it is a concert, a sports event, a continuing education or personal development course, a pair of shoes, electronic equipment, food, or one more accessory for your car or your home.

Next time you find yourself responding to that impulse like you have done in the past, STOP. Before you hand over your cash, credit or debit card, look at the action you are about to take, Then listen to the response as you ask yourself: “What is triggering me to act in this way? I don’t even need that thing I just want it. But I am going for it like I always do.”

What is the trigger that’s causing you to take the action you are about to take? It could be any number of impulses such as: you want to add excitement in your life, raise your self-esteem, stifle a feeling you don’t want to deal with, or it may be something else.  What is triggering you to take an impulsive action you want to stop?

I still remember many years ago when I went on a clothes shopping binge to create a new look. It was totally out of my normal pattern and yet I couldn’t stop myself. When I reflected, as I returned items back to the stores, I went all out because I felt lonely and at a low point in my marriage. I wanted more attention in my life. Clothes became the symbol for the experience I wanted in my marriage.   

Identify your trigger. For me it was feeling unappreciated.  Once you identify your trigger, you can affect your response to it. In my case, when I figured out my trigger I was able to talk myself off the ledge of mind numbing clothes shopping. It was not the response I wanted to have for the trigger of not feeling appreciated. Once I identified my trigger, I could let go of the response I was using (clothes shopping) and deal with the issue itself, not feeling appreciated.  You can read more about this phenomenon in a book called: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Third, you need to commit to change.

At the gym there are some who can achieve their objectives on the own. But the vast majority must commit to bringing in an outsider, one who can guide and lead them to their intended outcome. 

Those who get ahead farther, faster and with more satisfying results at the gym are usually those who hire a trainer. Why is this?

I think it is for two reasons: the first is that you want to meet the expectations and standards of someone who want to report to. The second is that a commitment brings about its own solutions and journey of discovery that lead to success. Commitment changes a maybe to a must be.

Now that you have heard about these three steps, think about where you can apply them in your life.

For those who can, tell me how you effectively dealt with a money issue. For others of you, let me know how I can help you deal with your harmful money habits.

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