Jan 13, 2021
This month we dove into Atomic Habits by James Clear to kick-off 2021. While some "self-help" books can end up motivating by guilt or feel patronizing, the team truly enjoyed the tone and methods Clear lays out in his book. More than a self-help book, this is a study into the absurdity of the human brain and how we create behavioral patterns that intertwine our emotional, mental, spiritual, and physiological bodies. We might be complicated, but creating meaningful change isn't nearly as difficult as we convince ourselves.
No matter what your goals for 2021 might be, they will all revolve around new habits. If you want to work out more, you need to make that a priority and schedule that in your schedule consistently throughout the week. Just saying, "I am going to work out daily" does not give you any accountability, specificity, or an exact way to break that goal down. If you can attach the new habit to something you already do without thinking, it becomes much easier to achieve. If you say, "I'm going to work out right after I brush my teeth," and you brush your teeth every morning at 7:00, then suddenly your goal has a plan and a clear path for the new habit to be formed. The same can be said for breaking a "bad" habit. Using the power of compounding small actions add up to a noticeable difference.
As it relates to your financial habits, it can seem restricting to become regimented in the way that you structure your finances. Monitoring every dollar that comes into or flows out of your account feels like it robs you of the ability to be spontaneous and spend money on things or experiences as they present themselves. Though it can feel that way, in actuality, a regimented financial approach has the opposite effect. The more regimented and particular you are about every dollar you make or spend, the more it frees you up to use the excess how you please. If you know every expense is covered, you've decided on the amount you want to save, and that amount is accounted for; the remainder can be used confidently on anything because you know that the primary aspects of your financial plan are covered. The seemingly restrictive structure actually ends up giving you freedom.
Three tips for creating positive financial habits:
In all things, don't let perfection cripple you. Small changes are better than perfection and build lasting habits. A new year makes many of us want to evaluate our priorities, goals, and (hopefully!) financial health. This book was an excellent launchpad for many of us to do just that. If you have any questions or would like us to help you build better money habits in 2021, let us know!
If you're a reader interested in checking out Atomic Habits, please email Luke ([email protected]), and we'll get you a free copy!
Luke joined Narwhal’s client services team in the spring of 2019 after working as a wrangler on a West Colorado guest ranch. He holds a B.S. in psychology from Davidson College and competed for four years on the Davidson men’s swim team. His role at Narwhal focuses on 401(k) planning and client services. In his own time, Luke enjoys all things related to fitness and the great outdoors.
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