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Why our resolutions fail: building and breaking habits

Posted by Charles Haine on 2/7/2017

Why our Resolutions Fail.jpg 

Resolutions fail before you know it.

We promise ourselves that we’re going to spend money more wisely, not splurge on eating out so often, not buy so many last minute coffee and muffin combos that somehow always come to close to $20, not take that expensive cab ride home at the end of the night.

Then, when it happens, we think “Oh, I guess I don’t have the will power I thought.”  

The problem isn’t one of willpower, it’s lack of planning. If you wake up and run out the door and need coffee, you’ll hit the first starbucks you see and order a large - and why not get yourself a treat? You earned it. 

If you wake up, make coffee at home, and eat whatever breakfast you like, you’ll drive right past that starbucks without even a thought. 

Human beings have needs, and no amount of willpower will overcome those pure, human desires that absolutely must be serviced. We need food and shelter, above all. If you put yourself in a place where you are apartment hunting the day before your current lease runs out, you are way more likely to pay more for an apartment than you budgeted. If you’ve gone out drinking for the night without a designated driver or knowing the local bus schedule, of course you’ll splurge for a $40 cab ride home. 

Resolutions never fail in the moment you are tested. Resolutions fail when you don’t implement a plan to avoid the test altogether. If you set out to make a change in your life, you need to actually make a change in your overall pattern so that you aren’t put in the way of temptation, or if you are, you have shielded yourself against it. If you come home to an empty refrigerator, the likelihood you’ll order a pricy pizza instead of going back out for groceries is huge. 

When making any new resolution, sit down and write out exactly what needs to change. Not “I need to resist splurging on food when I don’t have anything to cook,” but instead “I need to schedule a time to buy food to have ready, so by the time I’m hungry it’s there for me.” That’s how real change happens, not by strengthening your willpower, but by changing your habits so that no willpower is ultimately required.

 

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Occasionally, Logix will invite guest bloggers to post on assorted financial topics. These posts may or may not represent our views

Topics: Consumerism, Saving

Meet the blogger

Charles Haine

Charles Haine

A long time artist and contributor to the Citizens of Culture print and web magazine. He writes to promote conscious consumption and the idea of thinking before you spend.The views expressed are those of a discerning young consumer, not a financial advisor and may or may not reflect the views of Logix FCU.

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