‘Chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken’ – Warren Buffett
As a financial adviser, I have read many of Warren Buffett’s books and quotes but it wasn’t until recently that I came across this one.
For those of you who don’t know who Warren Buffett is, he is an eighty-three year old stock market guru who from nothing became the richest man in the world. He has built his wealth over the past 6 decades through discipline and persistence.
I wanted to share this quote with you because the implications of the principle Mr. Buffett is sharing in the opening quote will either empower or enslave you.
Put simply Mr Buffett is telling us that little decisions and behaviours that are seemingly insignificant today, if made regularly enough, will ultimately become habits. Over time those little habits become such a core part of who and what we are that we ultimately find ourselves unable to change those behaviours even if we want to.
It is my experience that people’s financial circumstances, whether good or bad, are almost always a reflection of the habits they have developed or inherited throughout their whole lives.
Our habits are a powerful force; they can either help or hinder us. The question we all need to ask ourselves is this; ‘Are the habits and decisions I am making today conducive to a strong financial future?’
If you want to learn how to budget and build a strong financial future, you need to be intentional about developing positive habits today. This is true of any aspect of life, not just with your finances.
It is an unfortunate fact that ‘bad habits’ are always the easiest to adopt and the hardest to get rid of. In fact, we don’t need to even try to develop bad habits, they just seem to happen!
The daily coffees, bought lunches, ready use of lifestyle debt, daily trips to the grocery store or outings to the Mall to ’see if there is anything I need’ are but a few habits that undermine your financial future.
On the flip side, positive habits like shopping to a meal plan, keeping your receipts, sticking to a budget, saving a percentage of every dollar you earn and using cash instead of credit to buy stuff are all simple tasks with powerful consequences.
All it requires is a decision to make certain positive behaviours a priority in your life. Developing a habit requires a conscious effort at first but with time these habits will become part of the natural flow of your everyday life.
In his book The One Thing, Gary Keller talks about the power of identifying behaviours that are key to us achieving our goals and then consciously working on those behaviours until they become habits. He goes on to quote studies that have shown that developing a habit typically takes up to 65 days, not the 21 we so often hear quoted. It is at 65 days that the behaviour becomes as natural and instinctive to complete as it ever will. Establishing healthy habits is not quick or easy. It requires commitment but the power of deliberately working on one new and positive habit every two month is immense.
Your future is the sum of today’s habits and decisions. I encourage you to take time today to identify and weed out those habits that have the potential to undermine your financial goals and replace them with behaviours that will propel you towards a future of financial strength and opportunity.
What positive behaviour could you be working on for the next 65 days?