Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FINANCE PERSONAL -

al­ter. We are averse to change, and, when it comes to spend­ing habits, we are stuck in our ways.

We need to re­place ex­ist­ing rou­tines with new rou­tines, to change our habits slowly. For ex­am­ple, if be­ing paid is a cue that sig­nals spend­ing, and your ex­ist­ing pat­tern is to pay your bills and then buy everything you want and, fi­nally, to save, change your pat­tern to sav­ing a por­tion of what re­mains af­ter your ex­penses, and only then spend­ing on non-es­sen­tials.

One way to change en­trenched pat­terns, ac­cord­ing to some psy­chol­o­gists, is through “if-then” plan­ning. This is a great way to re­sist temp­ta­tion and build good habits, be­cause it com­mits us to spe­cific ac­tions. For ex­am­ple, “If I get paid a bonus, then I will make an ad­di­tional con­tri­bu­tion to my in­vest­ment.”

Ac­cord­ing to re­search, we are two to three times more likely to suc­ceed in chang­ing our habits if we use an if-then plan than if we merely state a goal such as “spend less, save more”. Psy­chol­o­gists ex­plain that if-then plans work well be­cause they speak the lan­guage of our brain: the lan­guage of con­tin­gen­cies. De­cid­ing ex­actly when and where you will act on your goal cre­ates a link in your brain be­tween the sit­u­a­tion or cue (the “if ”) and the be­hav­iour that should fol­low (the “then”).

If-then plans have been found to be less de­mand­ing and re­quire less willpower than sim­ple res­o­lu­tions.

We are our own worst en­e­mies – our self-doubt gets in the way of us achiev­ing our goals. If you don’t re­ally be­lieve you can achieve some­thing, you are de­vel­op­ing an in­ter­nal feed­back loop that will pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing. If you want your brain to be­lieve you can do it, you need to be­lieve that what you are do­ing is worth­while.

Jeanette Marais is the di­rec­tor of dis­tri­bu­tion and client ser­vice at Al­lan Gray. This ar­ti­cle, which ap­peared in the Novem­ber 2017 edition of Al­lan Gray’s news­let­ter GrayIs­sue, is used with per­mis­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.