Saving money can be tough. You might feel like there's no way to cut your expenses or increase your income. You decide instead to commit to tracking everything you spend. After a month or so of tracking your spending, you find that you can create a small gap between your expenses and income by forgoing some expenses that gave you little contentment anyway. You repeat this behavior the next month and the month after. Slowly but surely you've created a savings habit. You feel good about your progress and you start to see further opportunities to cut back your spending which fuels you to save more and more. You no longer get a high from buying a shiny new gadget, you now get a high from seeing the interest you're paid on your savings compound every month. You've just formed a keystone habit.
Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit coined the term keystone habit, a habit that creates a chain reaction of positive changes to your other habits. The small victories that you achieve from creating one habit (e.g. saving money) fuels you to commit to new, constructive behaviors (e.g. exercising, quitting smoking and eating more healthily). By creating just one positive habit, you can transform all aspects of your life. Aside from creating this keystone habit that can trigger other positive habits, we've identified how saving money and losing weight are similar and show you how one can fuel the other:
1) You have a better understanding of your needs and wants. You look at your current eating or spending holistically and realize that you eat or spend without being conscious of what you or your body needs versus what you want.
2) You recognize that impulse buying or eating is not a helpful action in the short- or long-term and will leave you feeling worse.
3) When you start tracking what you buy or eat, you are often surprised by how much more it is than you thought.
4) Emotions that trigger your spending may also trigger eating when you're not hungry.
5) To develop a good habit to reduce your waistline or save money means discipline and exercising willpower.
How to develop a keystone habit
1) Decide on what you want to make a habit e.g. exercise
2) Break the habit down into something very achievable (almost too easy) on a daily basis e.g. 5 mins a day of walking
3) Commit to practising the habit daily. If you struggle to keep it up, start again but make the daily habit even smaller and therefore more achievable.
Have you noticed a shift in your habits after developing a keystone habit? Share your experience with us.
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