Today’s article is about why budgets and diets don’t work. And how to manage the Holiday Hangover you might be feeling.
When people decide they’re going to lose weight, or stick to a budget, or finally pay off their credit cards, typically they dive into the action mode.
The pain of being where they are jumpstarts into DOING things to feel better.
They start calculating expenses. Cutting things from their budget, throwing out the cookies and pulling out the old exercise gear. They join a gym. They hire a coach.
THIS YEAR, they think, is going to be different.
And yet, most people have dropped their new habits by January 28th. Oh well, they figure. Maybe next year.
The reason why most people have trouble creating lasting change in certain areas of their life is because they jump right into Step Two – the action phase – without ever spending enough time in Step One.
This is what I call the “mindset stage.”
Your mindset determines which actions you take, which actions you ignore, what you pay attention to and what you gloss over. Your mindset is the filter for all the tiny decisions you make on a daily basis that turn accumulate into BIG things over time.
And if your mindset is flawed from the beginning, it will be difficult to sustain any lasting progress.
Ultimately there are two types of mindsets that I see when people come to me for help with their finances. The Tortoise mindset and the Hare mindset.
If you come from the Hare mindset, you are looking for a quick fix, someone to “save” you. You want instant results. Immediate gratification. If you have this short-term mindset, it’s going to be difficult to make long-term change because you expect fast results. And when you don’t see them quickly enough, you get frustrated and you quit.
The problem with the Hare mindset is one of unrealistic expectations. New habits and behaviors take time to start and even longer to become automatic. If you are expecting to lose five pounds overnight, or looking to put every last dime of your paycheck to pay off the first of many credit card bills, you are setting yourself up for failure.
If it took you a year or more to get into debt, or blow through your savings, or to gain the weight, then plan for it to take about that long (or more) to reverse your situation.
Accepting this fact before taking any action is the best way to shift out of Hare thinking.
Now, let’s compare this to the Tortoise Mindset. The Tortoise mindset goes slowly and steadily, plodding along daily and celebrating daily wins. (No matter how laughably small.) The results are small at first – in fact many times they’re barely noticeable on the outside. But eventually these small daily wins accumulate and take on a life of their own.
When you adopt this mindset you’re not expecting fast results from the beginning. And because you don’t expect fast results, you don’t get frustrated as easily when the results aren’t visible yet. You are more likely to stick with your plans, trusting that you can’t NOT get there as long as you trust the process and keep going.
So, if you want your New Year’s Resolutions to “work” this year, spend some time changing your mindset. Change doesn’t happen overnight and there may be looooong stretches of time where it seems like you’re not making progress. A mentor, coach or mastermind group can help you stay on track even though it seems like “nothing’s happening.”
When you can really accept this, THEN you’re ready to move to Step Two with realistic expectations and get into action. From there, you’ve set yourself up for massive success!